If the dam breaks

Good thread delving into what could happen if the largest dam in the world collapses under the pressure of the current severe deluge:

𝐖𝐡𝐞𝐧 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐞 (𝐨𝐫 𝐃𝐚𝐦) 𝐁𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐤𝐬

1,000 km upriver from Shanghai and the mouth of the Yangtze Delta sits a marvel of modern mega-engineering:

The Three Gorges Dam.

It might be about to collapse. What happens if it does?

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Completed over twenty-one years (1994-2015) out of more than 28 million cubic meters of concrete and 463,000 tons of steel, the 185 meter tall Three Gorges Dam is today the largest hydroelectric dam on earth.

It generates around 2% of China’s total electrical power demand.

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As far back as 1918, Chinese political leaders have promoted damming the Three Gorges due to the ever-present threat of catastrophic flooding up and down the Yangtze River.

In 1931, more than 300K people were killed by floods.

In 1954 and 1998, 3K+ perished in each year.

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In 1982, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping promised to make the Three Gorges Dam a reality.

By 1992, enough political support had been assembled for the project to be approved.

The groundbreaking was in Dec 1994, though it wasn’t until 1997 that the first concrete was poured.

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The Three Gorges Dam has become a point of pride for the CCP.

Mega-engineering projects are a signal to the world that a nation has stepped into an elite tier of economic powerhouses.

For the CCP, it is further proof that authoritarianism is more effective than capitalism.

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However, the project did not come without enormous costs.

The price tag has run more than $30 billion USD.

Choking off the sedimentary flow of the river reduces the available fertile silt required by farmland downstream, and increases risk of flooding.

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All things considered, the Three Gorges Dam truly is a herculean feat of engineering, political willpower, and propaganda.

This despite the risks and challenges for the people of China – especially the more than 55 million people who live along the Yangtze downstream.

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It’s beyond my ken to assess the structural risks and likelihood of failure for the TGD.

CCP officials are downplaying risk, because that’s what they do.

Now to the point of this thread – extrapolating the geopolitical/supply chain impact of failure of Three Gorges Dam.

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We must first understand the importance of the Yangtze River in practical terms.

The watershed of the Yangtze is broadly divided into the Upper, Middle, and Lower Reaches.

Each reach is an industrial powerhouse, with specific economic and military significance.

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The westernmost Upper Reach is anchored by Chongqing, a massive megacity-region of more than 30 million people.

As China’s west-facing #BeltandRoad gateway, Chongqing plays a critical role in connecting the Yangtze to Central Asia and Europe via rail – the “New Silk Road.”

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The rail service – called “Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe Railway” – stretches more than 11,000 km and traverses a number of Central Asian nations.

It is operated jointly by Chinese, Russian, and German logistics companies, and just departed its 10,000 train in March.

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However, the CXE does not just serve Chongqing and Chengdu.

It connects cargo to China’s massive central/eastern industrial base via the Yangtze River’s container-on-ship service.

This subsidized, shorter routing cuts transit time to Wuhan from Europe by 10-14 days.

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This two-way multimodal service was a safety valve for the central China industrial region (centered in Wuhan) when ocean and air cargo service ground to a halt at the onset of COVID-19.

Trucks travelled to Chongqing, with cargo moving to Europe on the CXE.

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While Chongqing is the westernmost cargo hub on the Yangtze, it is closely connected via the river to the Port of Shanghai some 1,400 km away.

At Chongqing, all ocean-bound exports to/from western China are consolidated, numbering more than 1,000,000 containers/yr.

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Further, the ASEAN nations have become critical trade partners with Chongqing/W.China, as traffic along the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor has exploded.

This China-Singapore joint venture has seen almost 2,000 container trains move since 2017.

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It is clear that the CCP views connecting China’s western provinces to the world through Chongqing as a major strategic initiative.

And while rail is the primary mode to achieve this, it is the freight carrying capacity of the Yangtze that makes the project possible.

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Eastward from Chongqing, we come to the Yangtze’s Middle Reach, home to the Three Gorges Dam.

313km downriver from the dam sits Wuhan at the border of the Lower Reach.

It’s the most important interior city in China and a critical military, manufacturing, and tech hub.

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In this article for @theammind, I explored the importance of Wuhan to China and global trade.

It is the central node of the Yangtze River’s logistics network.

A failure of the ports here means zero ocean container traffic upriver from the delta.

When China Sneezes…
How U.S. Supply Chains Caught A Cold.

When China Sneezes…

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The Port of Wuhan handles more than 1.5 mil containers/year, 50% more than Chongqing.

Wuhan’s Tianhe airport serviced more than 24 million passenger in 2018, and a little more than 220K MT of air cargo (equivalent to about 2,000 747’s).

It’s also the PPE hub of China.

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So, let’s divert for a moment to what happens downriver if the Three Gorges Dam fails.

A 100m-tall wall of water will rush out at more than 100 km/hr.

In 30 minutes, Yichang and its 4 million residents will be engulfed.

(Map Credit: u/BerryBlue_BlueBerry @ Reddit)

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Zero+1 hour, Jingzhou and 5.7 million people will be swept away.

Zero+5, the major industrial city of Yueyang (5.5 mil people) will sit 5m underwater.

Zero+10 hours, Wuhan (11 mil people) will face flooding of 6-8m in all major industrial and port zones.

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Zero+15 hours, Jiujiang (another major PPE hub with 4.7 mil residents) will be hit with several meters of flooding. All cropland and infrastructure will be flooded and damaged.

Zero+24 hours, Shanghai’s neighboring city of Nanjing will see its port crippled.

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Note, the Yangtze watershed is massive, but Biblical levels of rain have been flooding western and central China for weeks.

There simply is nowhere for the water to go, except outwards towards the East China Sea, and the world’s largest port of Shanghai.

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Circling back now to Wuhan and the impacts to supply chains…

Ports along the Yangtze saw more than 19.4 million TEU (standard unit of container measure, “twenty foot equivalent unit”) in cargo traffic in 2019.

By comparison, Shanghai handled 42 million TEU in 2019.

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In simple terms, the Yangtze River logistics and manufacturing complex comprises 46% of the volume of the largest port on earth, since all cargo flows through Shanghai.

Failure of the Three Gorges Dam would annihilate the entire logistics infrastructure of central China.

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The Yangtze River east of the dam bases many PLA anti-air, ballistic missile, and PLA Air Force assets.

Several entities (Taiwan included) have speculated openly about the ability to strike the dam with missiles and cause massive downstream devastation.

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Such an unlikely attack on the dam would no doubt trigger immediate reprisal by the CCP and PLA.

But what happens if the dam naturally fails due to excessive water and engineering flaws?

How does China respond, and how do foreign companies recover manufacturing capacity?

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From an economic/military standpoint, all activity on the Yangtze would halt.

The rescue and recovery efforts will be enormous, taking months to complete, and only after the waters recede.

Peak water levels may not crest until August…and Yangtze ports are already slowed.

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The Yangtze River Economic Basin has a GDP of more than $6.5 trillion, or about half of all China’s GDP.

Recall, China represents 28% of all manufacturing output – globally. More than half of that is in the YREB.

15% of the world’s production would go offline in 24 hours.

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A wipeout of the Yangtze River would further cripple the already-congested Port of Shanghai, slowing vessel rotations to other Chinese and Asian ports by days or weeks.

Food imports – a critical item for China – would be slowed as refrigerated containers are bottlenecked.

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A slowdown at Shanghai would place additional pressure on the northern ports of Tianjin and Qingdao, and central/southern ports like Ningbo, Xiamen, and Yantian.

More manufacturers will offshore from China to SE Asia, creating more chokepoints.

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China’s central banking system, already cracking under the pressure of COVID-19 and the trade war, will not be able to help domestic companies recover fast enough.

The CCP will not be able to keep subsidizing production in attempt to keep the economy growing.

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The middle reach of the Yangtze River is also China’s main agriculture production zone, where the crops are enaring harvest.

African Swine Fever rages on.

Famine will follow without huge imports of protein from the US, Europe, and S. America.

Hmm.

China makes its largest ever purchase of U.S. corn
Far behind on its “phase one” commitments with the United States, China bought 1.76 million tonnes of U.S. corn, its largest purchase ever. of American corn.
https://www.agriculture.com/news/business/china-makes-its-largest-ever-purchase-of-us-corn

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China’s central and northern region water supply – especially in Beijing – is dependent on the Yangtze.

Additionally, given that 2% of China’s electricity is produced by the dam, recovery of the industrial base in the YREB would be crippled due to energy shortfalls.

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The lingering health effects associated with so many dead or sick from the flooding will crush the already-strained health services in the region, which are still trying to recover as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And…it gets worse.

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It’s the habit of authoritarian regimes to deflect from domestic disasters by lashing outward to external enemies or entities.

It is thus a certainty that a failure of the dam will be painted as enemy action – likely pointing the finger at the US and/or Taiwan (recall #26).

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Within days, the CCP/PLA will start saber-rattling.

Harrassment of US and allied naval assets, wargames involving intermediate-range ballistic missiles, rhetoric aimed at Taiwan, etc.

This will spill over into major disruptions of the East and South China Seas.

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Commercial shiplines (such as Maersk, MSC, CMA-CGM) and their import customers in North America will see increased transit times as non-China transshipment ports take on add’l volume and vessels redirect around the contested waters.

As with COVID-19, the system will buckle.

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Many companies in Europe and North America still recovering from the supply chain shock earlier this year will close down, ratcheting up anti-CCP sentiment further.

All of these factors combined will nearly guarantee open conflict between the US and China.

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So what does a failure of the Three Gorges Dam look like?

It would be among the most horrific humanitarian crises in memory, triggering a cascade effect of famine, war, and economic depression that will threaten global peace.

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For just one example of how we need to build proactive solutions to address China’s increasingly unstable house of cards, see @SecStudiesGrp’s proposal to support the Philippines in rebuilding Subic Bay into a logistics and manufacturing powerhouse.

Blunting a Rampant China’s Threat to Southeast Asian Shipping – Security Studies Group
A bold plan to repurpose a turnkey Free Trade Zone at Subic Bay. […]Read More…

Blunting a Rampant China’s Threat to Southeast Asian Shipping

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For more detailed analysis on China’s naval and missile programs, as well as their geopolitical moves in the South China Sea and at Diego Garcia, see this thread and the ones embedded within:

A provocative thesis

For casual observers of China, such as myself, the CPC’s ham-fisted attempts at diplomacy have been a longtime source of hilarity. Here’s a post from May of last year expressing my amazement at a statement by the Chinese ambassador to Canada, in which he accused the country of being infested with “demons” because it shot down a Chinese M&A deal.

But since the onset of the global COVID fake emergency, China has embarked on a spree of egregious diplomatic self-destruction that makes its previous missteps look like minor faux pas. I admit I find this puzzling. Are Chinese leaders really that dumb, or are they doing this on purpose? Geopolitical thinker Peter Zeihan takes a stab at explaining China’s seemingly nonsensical behavior:

The propaganda out of China of late has been…notable. Beijing has accused the French of using their nursing homes as death camps, has blamed Italy for being the source of the coronavirus (at the very peak of Italian deaths), has charged the US Army with bringing the virus to China in the first place, has thrown a “fact sheet” of truly disbelievable disinformation at the fact-oriented Germans, and turned the country’s ambassadorial core into cut-rate tabloid distributors – all while leaning on anyone and everyone from the United Nations to the World Health Organization to the European Union to regional legislative bodies to alternatively suppress and delete any information or analysis that does anything but laud China, as well as push them to take public stances that slobberingly praise China.

In doing so the Chinese have seemingly deliberately wrecked their relations with the Americans, French, Italians, Germans, Czechs, South Africans, Kazakhs and Nigerians, just to name a few. (The Swedes had all but ended their diplomatic relationship with China – having come to the public conclusion that the Chinese government was a pack of genocidal, power-mad, information-suppressing, exploitive, ultranationalists – before COVID.) […]

The explanation is unfortunately very simple: the Chinese leadership is well aware that soft power isn’t what is going to solve the problem they see. There’s some guidance as to the CCP’s thinking in how the propaganda effort is being explained within China, and it doesn’t bode well for the future.

Semi-officially, the CCP called the April (official) effort Wolf Warrior diplomacy, in reference to a recent (and wildly popular) Chinese movie series about ethically pure Chinese soldiers who purge the world of evil American mercenaries. The closest equivalent I can think of would be like calling an American propaganda effort Starship Troopers diplomacy. (Yeah, it is as stupid as it sounds.)

The (more disperse) May effort, in contrast, is being referred to as a Yihetuan Movement mindset. It is a reference to a particularly chaotic period at the turn of the 19th to the 20th centuries when a particularly violent strain of ultranationalism erupted in response to foreign actions within China. Most non-Chinese readers probably don’t recognize the Yihetuan Movement reference, but they probably do recall how it was labelled in the West: the Boxer Rebellion. More on that in a minute.

This new propaganda program isn’t about Xi attempting to convince the wider world of China’s greatness or rightness. This isn’t about the United States or Europe or Africa, and certainly not about global domination. Instead it is about intentionally saying things so far beyond the pale that there’s a global anti-Chinese backlash. The backlash itself isn’t the goal, but instead a means to an end. Xi is attempting to use a global anti-Chinese backlash to enflame anti-foreigner nationalist activity within China. Put simply, Xi is trying to get the world pissed off at China so that China becomes pissed off at the world.

Xi feel he needs to hyperstimulate and mobilize a large enough proportion of the population so that they can assist the state security services in containing, demoralizing, cowing – and if necessary, beating, killing and disappearing – those who do not buy in.

And from the next installation in the series:

The short version is that China’s spasming belligerency is a sign not of confidence and strength, but instead insecurity and weakness. It is an exceedingly appropriate response to the pickle the Chinese find themselves in.

Will the Three Gorges Dam collapse?

There’s been some chatter on Twitter and in overseas news outlets

After speaking with Feng Tian, a Chinese YouTuber, who is a critic of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and goes by the handle Li Yiping (李一平), on Tuesday (June 30) said that the floods this year are on pace to surpass those seen in 1998 and predicted that if an earthquake occurs at the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, it could cause one of the smaller dams to collapse.

He warned that if this were to occur, it could lead to a domino effect, with one dam failing after another until finally, the Three Gorges Dam itself would be under such a tremendous amount of strain from the resulting catastrophic floodwaters that it too would collapse. Li also pointed out that the Three Gorges Dam sits on two major fault lines, the Jiuwanxi and Zigui-Badong, and that massive changes in water pressure in the dam’s reservoir due to flooding could lead to earthquakes, a phenomenon known as reservoir-induced seismicity, which in turn would lead to landslides that would at the very least exacerbate the flooding in the area and potentially threaten the integrity of the main dam.

Never believe a rumor until it’s officially denied

One country, one system

2014 protests (Source)

Hong Kong’s history effectively comes to an end as the once quasi-autonomous city becomes fully absorbed into the Chinese Communist borg — only 27 years ahead of schedule:

A national security law introduced Friday at the opening session to China’s National People’s Congress to tackle the ongoing political unrest in Hong Kong would allow Beijing to send its security agents to operate freely in the former British Colony to “fulfill relevant duties to safeguard national security in accordance with the law.”

Chinese law enforcement and security agents previously had no purview in Hong Kong under the “One Country, Two Systems” arrangement that allowed the Chinese international financial hub a certain degree of autonomy to runs its own affairs.

The proposed national security law, which Chinese authorities deemed an “absolute necessity” and is guaranteed to pass, is the latest and most far-reaching attempt by Beijing to tighten its grip on Hong Kong. […]

“This is the end of Hong Kong. This is the end of ‘One Country Two Systems.’ This is it. Make no mistake about it,” pro-democracy lawmaker Dennis Kwok, who has been the target of Beijing’s recent ire, told the media after hearing the news of the planned law Thursday night.

This comes after the coup in LegCo on Monday:

Several pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong were dragged out of a legislative council session on Monday in a melee that broke out over a bill that would criminalize any disrespect of the Chinese national anthem, according to reports.

“If Hong Kong was a democracy, we would not need to start scuffles like this,” one of the lawmakers carried out, Eddie Chu, told the BBC. “Unfortunately we are forced into this situation. I can foresee more fights within the chamber and outside the chamber.”

The uproar began when pro-Beijing lawmaker Chan Kin-por, who was appointed by the council president last week to oversee the election of a new House committee leader, occupied the chairman’s seat and surrounded himself by more than 30 mask-clad security guards.

The House committee, which decides when controversial bills, including the Chinese national anthem bill, will be voted on, has gone without a chairperson for months. China has accused pro-democracy lawmakers in Hong Kong of filibustering the bill to stall until council elections in September.

As pro-democracy lawmakers entered the chamber, they tried to reach the chairman’s seat but were met with force from the guards in a skirmish that lasted several minutes. At least one person was knocked to the ground, according to the BBC.

Pan-democratic politician hauled away (Source)

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Chan Kin-por takes charge (Source)

The Big Lychee reacts:

There is at least a morbid fascination in watching – in real time – a dictatorship destroy a free society. In just seven days since ‘Freak-Out Friday’, we’ve seen the LegCo coup, a ban on the June 4 vigil and choreographed attacks on the once-independent RTHK and exams authority.

Now Beijing has decided to impose a de facto Article 23 national security law on Hong Kong by directly inserting it into Annex III of the Basic Law. Don’t quibble about whether this is legal: if the CCP does it, it is.

All we know is that the new law will ban sedition, subversion, foreign intervention and ‘terrorism’. There are no details as yet, and the final wording will no doubt be intentionally vague. The aim is to hugely expand the pretexts for silencing and punishing dissent.

Whatever the wording, the outcome is likely to include criminalization of opinions, such as mere advocacy of Hong Kong independence or the downfall of the Communist Party. This points to Internet or print censorship. The new law will probably enable suppression of a wide range of opposition activities – for example the banning of websites used to organize protests, or even possession of anti-government banners. It could include the intimidation of lawyers who defend opponents of the regime or people who help fund activist causes (‘subversion of state power’ in the Mainland).

The ban on foreign interference will obviously target ties between the pan-dem camp and overseas politicians or other ‘foreign forces’, and probably enable the freezing of any (allegedly) foreign-sourced funds going to pan-dems. It could also be used to bar more people from Hong Kong – and even to kick out non-locals like teachers or journalists who are deemed to be infiltrators helping the opposition.

China’s emperor-for-life appears to be firmly ensconced in the Dragon Throne, and there is no prospect of the CPC loosening its grip on power anytime soon, let alone some other system of government replacing the 90-million-member party and the totalitarian hell-state over which it presides.

Nevertheless, it is worth bearing in mind that no regime can last forever, and most are quite short-lived on the scale of human history. As long as people desire freedom, as the people of Hong Kong most certainly do, then hope remains. Hong Kong in its glory and splendor will rise again.

Forever lockdown: China edition

Like the song that never ends, it just goes on and on, my friends:

Some 108 million people in China’s northeast region are being plunged back under lockdown conditions as a new and growing cluster of infections causes a backslide in the nation’s return to normal.

In an abrupt reversal of the re-opening taking place across the nation, cities in Jilin province have cut off trains and buses, shut schools and quarantined tens of thousands of people. The strict measures have dismayed many residents who had thought the worst of the nation’s epidemic was over.

People “are feeling more cautious again,” said Fan Pai, who works at a trading company in Shenyang, a city in nearby Liaoning province that’s also facing renewed restrictions. “Children playing outside are wearing masks again” and health care workers are walking around in protective gear, she said. “It’s frustrating because you don’t know when it will end.”

It won’t end. The virus won’t simply go away no matter how antisocial a country is willing (or forced) to be. “Everyone will be exposed to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus, and most people will become infected. COVID-19 is spreading like wildfire in all countries, but we do not see it,” wrote the former state epidemiologist of Sweden.

The promised vaccine is a long way off, but for the time being we can at least pretend to contain the virus by inflicting novel types of misery on our fellow human beings. China, always eager to make its mark as an innovation superpower, has certainly emerged as a global leader in the exciting field of Population Control and Mass Sadism:

Still, delivery services have been mostly halted and anti-fever medication is banned at drugstores to prevent people from hiding their symptoms.

China’s latest flare-up is well-timed, as complacent Americans and Europeans are beginning to venture carelessly out of their homes — and we just can’t have that. We are in a curious situation, where countries that barely notice the virus’s existence are considered to be losing the war against it, while those that shut themselves down like a hung computer are considered to be winning. The Japanese, for example, have their heads buried firmly in the sand regarding the virus, and accordingly have suffered a staggering 768 deaths. When will they wake up?! Inquiring minds want to know.

The specter of a second wave — a term that I suspect is not being used accurately by the non-scientists that write these articles — is again invoked to argue that we can never go back to normal, we can never let our guard down, even for a second. We are all Wuhan now. If you want a picture of the future, imagine an infrared thermometer pointed at a human forehead — forever:

While the cluster of 34 infections isn’t growing as quickly the outbreak in Wuhan which started the global pandemic last December, China’s swift and powerful reaction reflects its fear of a second wave after it curbed the virus’s spread at great economic and social cost. It’s also a sign of how fragile the re-opening process will be in China and elsewhere as even the slightest hint of a resurgence of infections could prompt a return to strict lockdown.

As I wrote back on April 4:

“There is no quick fix” is the message that is increasingly coming from our elites. They are preparing us for a long, miserable and ruinous battle against the microbe, one which our economy, society, and political order are not likely to survive. The forever wars weakened and demoralized America. The forever lockdown, if actualized, will finish us off. Buckle up!

He’s not going anywhere

It’s hardly surprising that Sisci would offer a ringing endorsement of China’s “effective” response to the virus – although it is puzzling that he would describe democratic Taiwan and Korea’s own effective responses as “incidents or adaptations of the Chinese way.” Putting that aside, this is a useful reminder that the Emperor for Life probably ain’t going anywhere anytime soon, despite the inane delusions of certain foreign observers with “sources” telling them that “Xi is in trouble”:

This is a recurring story. Over a year ago I wrote:

«Certainly, there is mounting opposition to Xi Jinping’s administration. This opposition considers the issue of getting rid of the top leader according to the rules of the system: you can’t peacefully vote him out of power, you must use force – you have to stage a coup and take him out. So, the attempts on his life were most likely real, and communist China has a history of attempted coups. But did they succeed in their goals? And how were they staged?».[1]

And the only successful coup in the history of the People’s Republic was staged in 1976 against the Gang of Four. Here «the three main plotters controlled all the crucial elements: the party organization, the army, and the personal security of the people arrested».[2] That is, the main plotters were already in control of the party and the military and got rid of the challenge from the opposition. That was quite a different situation from the present one where Xi holds all the cards.

In the Party

Moreover, the CPC has rules limiting and strictly regulating meetings of senior officials outside of the appointed occasions. This was imposed a long time ago by Mao to thwart possible plots and as far as we know the rule is still in place.

In past years, Xi not only arrested a lot of people but deconstructed the party apparatus and the PLA (People’s Liberation Army), moving people around to break their chains of loyalties. Everybody now works in environments where they can’t be sure of where other people stand, and thus they are all wary about expressing themselves let alone organizing a coup against Xi.

A coup needs first and foremost a secretive, efficient, and quite pervasive organization. Without it a coup turns into civil war or the putschists are all arrested and killed by a firing squad (or die in a plane crash, as happened to Lin Biao in 1971).

How can there be any organization against Xi in these circumstances?

What some people register, confusing the signals, is that there is widespread, pervasive opposition to Xi among officials and their extended families (all formerly benefitting from the old pre-anticorruption life). But this opposition is scattered, with no glue or mortar to hold it. This sand-like opposition vanishes anytime and anywhere Xi puts his foot down.

Hua Guofeng arranged the coup against the Gang of Four, which included Mao’s last wife Jiang Qing.

Fuzzy math

I don’t know exactly what happened in China, and neither do you, but I do know that the country’s official numbers just… don’t… make… sense. And AEI scholar Derek Scissors agrees:

Of the 3,309 reported deaths in China, Hubei has had 3,187 — or more than 95%.

“Cases in Hubei are nearly five times higher than outside Hubei province, which is where Wuhan is, even though the population outside Hubei is 22 times larger,” Scissors said.

“So magically, although hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people left Hubei, although there was no quarantine for at least a month, China doesn’t have a COVID problem except in one province,” Scissors said.

“Magically” is the word for it. We are supposed to believe that China’s draconian “lockdown” of Hubei province and the enormous sacrifices of its people somehow stopped the virus in its tracks in a country of 1.4 billion, producing less than 15,000 cases outside of Hubei.

Look at it this way. 3,309 – 3,187 = 122 coronavirus deaths in ALL of China outside of Hubei province. In all the teeming mega-cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Chengdu, Tianjin, Nanjing, Xi’an… I could go on and on… each of them with many millions of people…

122 deaths. Right.

But China’s magical methods were so successful that the West is determined to replicate them here.

And don’t forget the international angle:

The effectiveness of a mass quarantine

Hypothesis: The effectiveness of a mass quarantine is greatly reduced when the target population is given several hours’ advance notice of it.

Item (Wuhan):

A sudden overnight quarantine, with a 7-hour grace period for people to leave, has predictably led to this. Can an epidemic both be severe enough to justify a lockdown of 10m people and sufficiently under-control to allow this?

Item (Northern Italy):

There was chaos and confusion in the hours before Conte signed the decree, as word leaked to the news media about the planned quarantine. Students at the University of Padua in northern Italy who had been out at bars on a Saturday night saw the rumors on their cellphones and rushed back to their apartments to grab their belongings and head to the train station.

Hundreds of passengers, some wearing face masks and rubber gloves, crammed onto the last local train leaving Padua at 11:30 p.m. Anxious students wrapped scarves around their heads, shared sanitizing gel, and sat on their suitcases in the aisles. No conductor came by to check tickets.