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China's COVID-19 Reclassification Decision

Executive Summary: On January 8, China abandoned its zero-covid policy and reclassified COVID-19 as a Class B infectious disease. This change also involved the removal of the quarantine mechanism outlined in the Frontier Health and Quarantine Law of the People's Republic of China. The Chinese government cited the belief that the novel coronavirus had mutated into a less fatal form as the rationale for this shift, though it faced significant social pressure during the lockdown, particularly during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. The US and Taiwan have offered to provide necessary COVID-19 vaccines to China, but the country has yet to respond to this aid. COVID-19 cases in China have increased following the lifting of lockdown measures, and the country's zero-covid policy has been criticized for its negative impact on both domestic and global economies. The Chinese government has argued that the unreliable mRNA vaccine technology could harm its large elderly population. There are concerns about the Wuhan Institute of Virology and its involvement in gain-of-function research. In response to China's lack of transparency in handling the pandemic, several countries, including the US, EU, and Japan, have implemented strict testing for Chinese travelers. China has threatened countermeasures on the covid travel for countries that announce strict testing for its citizens, and Thailand has announced that it will not provide special treatment to Chinese travelers.




China had relied on a zero-covid policy before it abandoned it on January 8. It switched to classifying COVID-19 as a Class B infectious disease, instead of a Class A infectious disease. As part of this change, it removed the quarantine mechanism outlined in the Frontier Health and Quarantine Law of the People's Republic of China.


The Chinese government provided a rationale for this shift, stating that it believes the novel coronavirus has mutated into a less fatal form. However, the government faced significant social pressure during the lockdown, particularly during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which took place from November 20 to December 18 last year.


During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, China attempted to use its vaccine diplomacy to boost its public image by supplying its homegrown inactivated vaccine to several countries. At the time, mRNA technology vaccines produced in the US and Western countries were still in development and trial periods.


The US and Taiwan have offered to provide necessary COVID-19 vaccines to China, but the country has yet to respond to this aid. This comes as COVID-19 cases in China have increased following the lifting of lockdown measures in the country.


China's zero-covid policy has been criticized for its negative impact on both domestic and global economies. The Chinese government has argued that the unreliable mRNA vaccine technology could harm its large elderly population, despite its higher efficacy compared to other technologies such as inactivated vaccines and viral vector technology.


Another possible reason for China's zero-covid policy may be a response to criticism that the first COVID-19 patient, known as the "zero-patient," came from the Wuhan market, which was the epicenter of the pandemic. Wuhan is home to the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV), China's first biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory. In response, China has suggested that the zero-patient may have originated in the US. The strict mechanisms put in place by China to control the situation have led some to believe that the lab leak theory is impossible.


There are understandable concerns about the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) given there was a history of "Black Biology" as exposed by Sergei Popov, the former chief of the Soviet bioweapons program at the State Research of Virology and Biotechnology (Vector) from 1976-1986 and at Obolensk from 1986-1992. Popov and his team manipulated DNA in pathogens to create a highly virulent and deadly strain. After Popov defected to the UK and later moved to the US, Margaret Thatcher and George H.W. Bush pressured Mikhail Gorbachev to conduct an open investigation into the Soviet Union's biopreparations in 1991. However, the investigation did not uncover any evidence, leading some to believe that the Soviet Union had destroyed it. This incident prompted the US to establish a biosecurity preparedness program to address the threat of outbreaks, whether intentional or accidental. Henry Kissinger once noted that bioweapons are low-cost mass destruction weapons that rogue states may use as a deterrent against nuclear-armed superpowers, despite their uncertain outcomes. Biological weapons (BW), chemical weapons (CW), and nuclear weapons (NW) are all considered weapons of mass destruction and are strictly regulated by global governance.


There is a dispute over whether Anthony Fauci permitted gain-of-function research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Some political factions in the US believe that he did, as noted in the best-selling book "The Real Anthony Fauci: Bill Gates, Big Pharma, and the Global War on Democracy and Public Health" by Robert Kennedy Jr.


China's lack of transparency in handling the pandemic, as warned by WHO, has led several countries, including the US, EU, and Japan, to implement strict testing for Chinese travelers. China has threatened to impose countermeasures on the covid travel for countries that announce strict testing for its citizens. Yesterday, the Thai cabinet announced that it will not provide special treatment to Chinese travelers. Thailand has heavily relied on tourism to revive its struggling economy.


 

Geopolitics.Asia will provide serious policy analysis on Mondays, trend monitoring on weekdays, and cultural and lifestyle issues on weekends. The most highly impactful issues will be presented on weekdays in the trend monitoring, while other issues will be tracked in the policy trend radar.



The policy trend radar will scan for signals in four key areas: 1) politics and security; 2) economics; 3) societal, cultural, lifestyle and environmental; 4) other factors such as innovation and legal. In the realm of politics and security, this policy may have implications for the protection of sensitive information, as well as the potential for political tension and conflict. Economic impacts could include changes to the cost of doing business or the competitiveness of certain industries, as well as macroeconomic considerations. Socially, culturally, and environmentally, the policy may affect the way people interact with each other or with institutions, as well as impact lifestyles and cultural trends. Other areas of potential impact may include legal and innovation-related considerations.


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