The Politburo Standing Committee held a meeting on Thursday, February 16. The outcome of the meeting is a triumphant declaration: under the guidance of the Party leadership with Xi Jinping at its core, China has now won the "decisive victory" over COVID-19, "creat[ing] a miracle in the history of human civilisation".
A translation of the meeting readout is below (and I left it outside the paywall).
The Politburo Standing Committee's panegyric is an ode to the glory and wisdom of the Party in the national struggle against the virus. We are told that the Party leadership's major assessments, decisions and "adjustments" on COVID-19 are "all entirely correct".
Whatever we may think about China's performance against COVID-19 relative to other countries or the efficacy of the policies and measures of the Chinese authorities, this panegyric is grotesque. By glossing over the magnitude of the calamity and sanitising the suffering of hundreds of millions, it tries to condense the lived experience of COVID-19 in China into a single, blazing word: glory.
Of course, the most glaring aspect of the panegyric is not its unmistakable political intentions, predictable claims or solipsistic language but its lack of human warmth, self-reflection and genuine empathy.
The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee convened a meeting. It heard reports on the recent COVID-19 prevention and control work. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, Xi Jinping, presided over the meeting.
The Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee [Politburo Standing Committee] convened a meeting on February 16. It heard reports on the recent COVID-19 prevention and control work. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, Xi Jinping, presided over the meeting and delivered an important speech.
The Politburo Standing Committee pointed out that China's battle with COVID-19 has been extraordinary over the past three years.
The Party Central Committee, with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, has always prioritised the people and their lives. It united and led the entire Party and all Chinese people in fighting the epidemic. With a strong sense of historical responsibility and strategic resolve, it:
— optimised and adjusted epidemic prevention and control policies and measures in response to changing circumstances;
— effectively coordinated epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development;
— successfully avoided the widespread prevalence of viral COVID strains that are more pathogenic and lethal;
— effectively protected the people's lives and health; and
— gained valuable time for winning the epidemic prevention and control battle.
Since November 2022, we have continuously optimised and adjusted epidemic prevention measures around "protecting health and preventing severe illness". We have achieved a smooth transition in epidemic prevention and control in a relatively short period. More than 200 million people have received treatment, and nearly 800,000 severely ill patients have received effective treatment. [China's COVID-19] mortality rate has been kept at the lowest in the world, and a decisive victory in epidemic prevention and control has been achieved. By successfully emerging from the pandemic with its massive population, China has created a miracle in the history of human civilisation.
Practice proved that the Party Central Committee's major judgements on the COVID-19 situation, major decisions on prevention and control work, and major adjustments to the [COVID-19] strategy are all entirely correct. It has proved that the measures taken by the Central Committee are effective, the people approve, and the [positive] results are enormous.
The Politburo Standing Committee stressed that the general situation of COVID-19 prevention and control in China is improving. The country has smoothly entered the "Category B infectious disease" normalised prevention and control phase.[Category B is the second most serious infectious disease category under the Law of the People's Republic of China on Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases 2013.]
However, the global pandemic is still ongoing, and the virus is constantly mutating. All localities and departments must, with the uttermost sense of responsibility:
— summarise and learn from the experience and methods [of epidemic prevention and control] over the past three years, especially about recent periods;
— improve relevant mechanisms and measures;
— take practical and meticulous steps in the work of the new stage of epidemic prevention and control;
— strengthen healthcare systems; and
— firmly consolidate the hard-won achievements.
The Politburo Standing Committee called for the decisions and plans of the Party Central Committee to be conscientiously implemented:
— ensure the discharge of the "four responsibilities" [localities, departments, work units and individuals];
— keep the focus on the critical links;
— control high-risk individuals;
— implement and improve based on the work that has already been done;
— improve the epidemic monitoring and forecast systems and information reporting mechanisms;
— make timely and accurate predictions and take the necessary emergency prevention and control measures;
— drive the continuous rise in the vaccination rate among the elderly by scientifically planning and carrying out the next phase of the vaccination work according to the virus' evolution and the protection provided by vaccines;
— continue to optimise the allocation of resources;
— strengthen the three-tiered healthcare service network with public health institutions as the cornerstone;
— raise the production and supply of medical materials;
— improve the reserve system and the inventory list [for medical materials];
— strengthen the mechanism for coordinating and allocating human and material resources;
— effectively address the deficiencies in the capabilities, medications, equipment, etc., that are confronted at the grassroots level; and
— coordinate and promote scientific and technological research in healthcare and health-related fields, and accumulate strengths from all areas to improve life and health science and technology.
[We] shall cherish the important achievements in the fight against COVID-19, tell the story of China's battle against the virus well, and inspire the whole Party and all people across the nation to lift their confidence and blaze a new trail on the new journey of the new era.
The Politburo Standing Committee also considered other matters.
By Adam Ni