Total Surveillance, Total Power, Total Cruelty: Zero-COVID in China

Canadians caught in duplicitous support of Chinese protestors abroad, after years of submitting to same policies on home soil.

Lockdowns Are Bad Now?

     Even the mercy of the wicked is cruel. Never so poignantly has the wisdom in Proverbs 12:10 played out than in governmental Covid-19 containment policy over the past 33 months across the globe. For months, which became years in Canada, a fierce and gaping chasm emerged between ideological dissidents against such policies, and the vast majority who remained stalwart subjects of ‘lockdownism’: business restrictions, church closures, and curtailment and redefinition of Canadians’ “fundamental” human rights. Yet as China triples down on its asinine “zero-Covid” social policy, Canadian media and political gatekeepers are being forced to acknowledge the plain evil that it is. China’s horrendous human abuses, plastered all over social media, serve us by pushing the Covid-theatre-thesis to its logical conclusions. 

China’s covid response demands unique attention from westerners for three reasons:

     First, viral containment as a public policy priority downplays or destroys that which enlivens, animates, and sustains true human existence. China, or more broadly, communism, has already proven itself willing to codify inhumane restrictions on basic biological realities innate to human life through its decades-long one child policy. In the name of resource preservation and quality of life, population control at the level of conception lead to millions of abortions of unplanned pregnancies, (horrendously, girls were aborted far more frequently than boys because of the economic prospects young males promise). Moreover, couples and families lived in constant fear of reprisal or sanction if found in violation thereof. These awful and evil realities of ideological population-control expand the “collective ideal” while restricting individual or family rights and responsibilities.  The same applies with their Zero-covid strategy.  When one aspect of reality is inflated in significance, or absolutized (eg. “resource management”, “biological health”, or even “living wage”) at the expense of all other considerations, you have a reduction of life’s complexity into one single usable category. This is the classic strategy of managerial or collectivist politics. Unable to balance the needs and concerns inherent in life’s grand and complex experience, collectivists will reduce or absolutize one metric over all others as an artificial marker of success. Example:

  • Do Chinese children need sleep? Of course. 
  • Should the Chinese government keep them locked in bedrooms 24 hours a day because they claim “sleep is essential!”?  Of course not.

     Humans aren’t biological machines to be kept in pristine sanitary condition. When life is reduced according to a biotic metric, lives are destroyed.  Factors critical to a child’s development such as nutrition, exercise, physical love and affection, education, leisure, spiritual formation, among hundreds of other factors, are known only and most intimately by the mother and father, and prove the impossibility of central management as a political solution to societal ills. 

     A second, and natural concern that emerges from the first, is that of the Chinese government’s tyrannical use of authority to impose harmful policies on their people. Not only have we seen policies emerge from a reductionist response to Covid which do more harm than good, but also the attendant authorities willing to enforce these policies.  Policing tyranny emerges from communism’s dark, functional atheism.  In order to secure total state compliance, creational categories must be shifted, distorted, and distorted by acting-overlords who reject nature, and nature’s God. Shocking examples include: 

  • A woman was forcibly removed from her private apartment by men in hazmat suits who presented no warrant for doing so. 
  • 10 people died in a residential building because their apartment doors had been welded shut by Chinese authorities to help enforce “lockdowns”.
  • Animals were caught and killed in the middle of daylight in plain view under pretense of eliminating potential reservoirs for Covid-19.

     How does a culture devolve to this type of inhumanity? God has created spheres for family, church, and government.  In the absence of accountability to Him, civic authorities inevitably enforce their vision for life and meaning over all things.  And, the subjugation of their people becomes justified to ensure their man-made visions unfold.  So, not only do they fail in principle to sustain or support human flourishing, but de facto undermine flourishing in pursuit of an alien and man-made vision for society. One where individuals are accountable only to men in a self-appointed totalitarian governing structure. There are no appeals to a higher court, or an ultimate judge. The Chinese are suffering under a dystopian, atheistic, totalitarian regime that not only derives and affirms Godless and reductive public policy, but ruthlessly enforces and maintains them.  When civic authorities claim to protect their population by so plainly abusing them, we must employ biblical analysis: they are in dereliction of state duty to punish evil and reward good, and commit plain and evil intrusion into man’s responsibilities and liberties. 

     Finally, and most concerning for western observers, is the every growing surveillance mechanism by which the Chinese government in part sustains its authoritarian rule. The Chinese state has become infamous for its pioneering innovation in total surveillance. Necessary interactions and transactions now ride along a technical infrastructure manipulated by political elites. Buses, trains, grocery or goods purchases, access to medical supplies, and many other operations we take for granted, are dependent upon access points determined by individual compliance to social and medical parameters. Smart phones with permanent GPS tracking, digital identification and medical data, and access to credit and debit, become the lifeline of the average Chinese citizen. Any lapse in compliance is immediately recorded, and enforcement is immediate. Caught traveling without permission during a lockdown? GPS indicators block access to public transit, access to credit shut down, etc. That is to say nothing of the tens of millions of online cameras that watch, record, and identify the movement - and even biometric data - of citizens. Total self serving reductionism, total authority, paired with sweeping and pervasive technological reach yields a totalizing power over people. Under these conditions, lack of freedom is suffocating.  Who can overcome, overpower, or outsmart an interconnected web of total data surveillance?  Anyone? 

     Our hearts and prayers go out for the Christian church, whose ultimate allegiance rests far above the Chinese State Government; and this allegiance is being tested daily.  Paul instructs Christians to pray for their leaders that you may live a quiet and peaceable life. This is precisely the life that God-hating governments will target and destroy by any and all means. A quiet life is one which permits the liberty to worship, work, and serve according to the dictates of God’s Word - which is also banned under most communist regimes. 

     For fear of leaving this analysis in the distant category of “foreign news” or “historic lessons”, we must now turn to the mirror for personal accountability. How did you respond when Canadian governments at every level began imposing the very same policies mentioned in this article? When the Federal government closed down international travel to its own citizens, when the provincial government gave authority to Health Units to shutter business and churches, when municipal governments offered no word of protest or resistance, when institutions - public and private - fired model and faithful employees for failure to comply with medical treatment policies, when you were prohibited from visiting or receiving neighbours and friends into your private home, when the peaceful and lawful truck convoy was eradicated in less than 48 hours by military-style police tactics - without diplomacy or debate - how did you respond? Did you dutifully align with every syllable from Canadian-state funded media? 

     Justin Trudeau has once again offered himself as the model Canadian-hypocrite in response to China’s covid policies, and the emerging protests by brave Chinese citizens willing to voice and assert covid-dissent. The Toronto Star described these protests as “the biggest show of public dissent in decades.” Commenting on the truck convoy, Trudeau admonished Canadians, “if you joined the protest because you’re tired of COVID, you now need to understand that you’re breaking laws.” But when forced by public question to comment on Chinese citizens’ protests of the exact same policies, he managed to choke out that “…Obviously everyone in China should be allowed to express themselves (and) should be allowed to share their perspectives, and indeed protest.” We may rightly point out Trudeau’s self-serving duplicity, but scarcely see it in ourselves. I am thinking of a log and speck.  Millions of Canadians who dutifully obeyed and participated in evil lockdowns and vaccine mandate policies now unironically admire and support dissent from Chinese non-conformists. Why then did so many not see the parallels? Because many are blinded by their idolatrous deference to secular experts and lust for social acceptance; they have neglected and forgotten the art, the created-complexity, and the responsibility of liberty. All they have left is passive and paltry virtue-signals to a long lost and faintly recalled shadow of personal liberty. 

     Let's pray for the Chinese, that truth and liberty will emerge as communism wanes. While we pray, let us man the ramparts in the west against the advance of atheistic and destructive worldviews by fighting for liberty and human flourishing. We have too long allowed these forces to strip our institutions of the power to protect, and the will to do good. If we are to effectively stand against these abuses in our own land, it will be by spiritual renewal and reclamation of ideals that place God at the centre, and His Son and King Jesus exalted above our lives and institutions. Our strength will return when by wisdom we examine and seek out the matter according to the fear of the Lord, and defend the truth in the public square.

Seek the LORD while he may be found. Call on him while he is near. Let wicked people abandon their ways. Let evil people abandon their thoughts. Let them return to the LORD, and he will show compassion to them. Let them return to our God, because he will freely forgive them. Isaiah 55:6,7

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About the author

Tim is a local pastor, carpenter, and podcaster. Attended University of Toronto to study history and rhetoric.