The manner in which the Chinese government managed the COVID-19 outbreak is being favourably compared to the general mess that Europe and the United States have made of it so far. Now that China seems to have contained the initial outbreak while Western countries are struggling with a massive surge in cases, Beijing’s propagandists and apologists have started asserting that the Chinese one-party, one-leader “system” is superior to a messy liberal democracy that is incapable of acting with the coherence, speed and efficiency required to contain the pandemic.
But here’s a strange thing: prominent Chinese individuals who criticised President Xi Jinping and the Chinese “system” for botching up the initial response to the Wuhan outbreak have been arrested or mysteriously disappeared. In contrast, Americans, British and Europeans are criticising their leaders, governments and public health policies without the smallest risk of arrest or detention. If the Chinese system is really as good as it is cranked out to be, why the need to silence the critics?