The onset of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing has inspired The New York Times to praise Xi Jinping’s "zero COVID" policy for China. As in, locking millions inside their homes for weeks on end in order to cleanse cities of any sign of the virus whenever it shows up.
The outlet frames "holding deaths to low levels" as a success even though the same piece discussing the issue casts that on how many deaths were officially reported.
(The Hong Kong area alone euthanized thousands of hamsters in January over an alleged COVID outbreak.)
"Most experts believe the country’s official Covid counts have been at least close to accurate for most of the past two years," they claim.
But no experts are cited.
Earlier this year, an article from Forbes cast direct doubt on China’s COVID death reporting. They manage to cite specific experts from places like Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany, and the University of Cambridge when it comes to casting doubt on COVID’s "official" death toll even in general terms.
Also the outlet points to The Economist’s model of COVID reporting to conclude that China understates their pandemic death rate by upwards of 17,000 percent.
The New York Times admits that China’s methodology is only possible because the government has more autonomy to limit the freedoms of the general public. They go as far as claiming that Xi Jinping was able to use COVID as a means of touting his government’s style of rule.
Simultaneously, they claim Chinese people have little natural immunity to the virus, whereas other Western countries have gradually shifted to learning to live with it in recent months.
Amy Qin of the Times was one of the main sources cited in the article. She frames the response from Chinese officials when it comes to COVID infections as proactively crucial. Authorities are obligated to stop the spread of infection immediately otherwise they face punishments. The apparent advantage of that is that people are supposedly allowed to get back to normal life faster in this system.
However it's not all praise.
When it comes to the "downsides" of China's zero COVID policy, the recent moves by the Chinese government to suppress infection earlier this year are brought up.
"In the northwestern city of Xi’an, hospital employees refused to admit a man suffering from chest pains because he lived in a medium-risk district. He died of a heart attack. They informed a woman who was eight months pregnant and bleeding that her Covid test wasn’t valid. She lost her baby. Two community security guards told a young man they didn’t care that he’d had nothing to eat after catching him out during the lockdown. They beat him up."
Earlier on Friday, Today Show host Savannah Guthrie was panned on social media for her commentary about how having a Uyghur athlete light the Olympic flame was an "in-your-face" response to accusations of genocide made against China.
On multiple occasions in recent years, The New York Times has praised the Chinese government despite increasing international outcry. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi outright warned US athletes not to criticize the Chinese government while overseas, out of fear for their personal safety.