No one is left behind: 88 percent of critically ill patients now recovering in China

A signature feature of China ‘smashing the curve’ of the COVID-19 epidemic is that no one is left behind.

This including hospitalising all people who have this type of coronavirus and then locating them in a hospital (or section thereof) in terms of whether they have mild, moderate, severe or critical symptoms. At the height of the outbreak and especially in Wuhan, tens of thousands of patients were all hospitalised.

Further, the socialist system in China was able to mobilise 42,000 medical professionals from across China to go to Wuhan. These ranged from crucial nurses to leading medical academicians, and included a massive mobilisation of the military’s medical resources. Most of them have returned home now, to heroes’ welcomes (for example, see here).

However, a few hundred critically ill patients remain in Intensive Care Units. A few thousand nurses, doctors and leading medical experts (for a description of the key experts, see here) remain in Wuhan and are focused on ensuring as many patients as possible recover.

As this article points out, ‘most ICU patients had underlying conditions and have been hospitalized since January’. The approach is to develop specific programs of treatment for each patient, combining ‘Western’ and Traditional Chinese Medicines.

The result: ‘The recovery rate of patients in severe or critical condition has increased from 14 percent to 88 percent’. At the peak in Wuhan, there were 9000 patients in critical condition. Not all could be saved, since about 3000 of them died. As I write, there are 265 critically ill patients remaining. In the last 24 hours, 30 have recovered and only one has died.

Instead of capitalist eugenics, this is socialism’s ‘no one is left behind’ in action.

Poverty is not socialism: China’s poverty alleviation back on track in 2020

In 1980, Deng Xiaoping observed: ‘‘Poverty is not socialism, socialism means eliminating poverty’.

In 2013, Xi Jinping was visiting a poverty-stricken village – Shibadong – among the Miao minority in Hunan province and suggested that the approach to eradicating poverty was to ‘keep track of every household and individual in poverty to verify that their treatment is having the desired effect’.

This led to the program of ‘targetted poverty alleviation‘, which tailors poverty alleviation to the specific conditions in each location. Indeed, it was this targetted approach that was also used in all the many parts of China to contain the COVID-19 epidemic. The outbreak entailed a pause in the poverty alleviation program, but the latter is now getting back on track.

I have written a few earlier posts on poverty alleviation, noting that in China more than 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty, or 7 out of 10 in the world. This achievement has been hailed as one of the greatest human rights achievements in history, in which the Chinese Marxist focus on the core human right to socio-economic wellbeing is paramount.

But let us go back to Deng Xiaoping, since I am completing a long chapter on his theory and practice. One of Deng’s major concerns was the heresy of ‘poor socialism’. We find this tradition in Western Europe with the idea of ascetic communism – lambasted already by Marx and Engels. In China, a localised version was promoted for a time during the Cultural Revolution, when some suggested that poor socialism was better than rich capitalism.

Deng Xiaoping would have nothing of this heresy. In 1980, he pointed out: ‘If the economy remains stagnant for a long period of time, it cannot be called socialism. If the people’s living standards remain at a very low level for a long period of time, it cannot be called socialism’.

One of the problems faced by communist revolutions is that they took place in poorer parts of the world, in places that suffered under Western imperialism and colonialism, and were thus held back from economic development. Was capitalism perhaps the answer?

Deng was very clear: ‘we do not want capitalism, but neither do we want to be poor under socialism [pinqiong de shehuizhuyi]’. Even more: ‘What we want is socialism in which the productive forces are developed and the country is prosperous and powerful’.

In fact, a capitalist system is unable to bring an end to poverty for the majority, so much so that those who have grown up under a capitalist system have come to assume that you will always have the poor with you.

In reply, Deng Xiaoping’s observation in 1984 is especially pertinent

This brings us back to the question of whether to continue on the socialist road or to stop and turn onto the capitalist road. Capitalism can only enrich less than 10 per cent of the Chinese population; it can never enrich the remaining more than 90 per cent … If we were to apply the capitalist principle of distribution, most of the people would remain mired in poverty and backwardness. But the socialist principle of distribution can enable all the people to lead a relatively comfortable life (xiaokang shenghuo). This is why we want to uphold socialism. Without socialism, China can never achieve that goal.

Or as Xi Jinping has stated on countless occasions, ‘no one will be left behind’.

There is plenty of information available on China’s targetted poverty alleviation project, which aims to remove the remaining few millions (about 1 percent) out of poverty by 2021 – with a current cost of 139 billion RMB. But I would recommend the following:

People’s Daily has a webpage devoted to overviews and specific accounts of poverty alleviation.

One feature of poverty alleviation, especially in the north-west, is re-afforestation of land that had become desert. This story about an 82 year old woman, Otgongerel, who has devoted her life to re-greening the Maowusu desert in Inner Mongolia, is worth a read.

And here is a video concerning another re-greening project in the same desert:

Here is a brief report not only only the world-leading role of China in reafforestation, but it also makes the explicit connection with poverty alleviation:

Finally, concerning Xi Jinping’s now fabled visit to Shibadong village, there are many accounts, but this one sums it up very well (see also here) and this is an excellent video:


The Grand Bazaar in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, reopens after China controls COVID-19

Last year, Xinjiang Autonomous Region posted one of the highest economic growth rates in the world, at about 20 percent. This is a fundamental realisation of the Chinese Marxist approach to human rights (see here and here), in which the right to socio-economic wellbeing is the core. Further, Xinjiang has seen no terrorist acts for about three years due to the highly effective de-radicalism measures undertaken in Xinjiang (a model that Muslim majority countries all support).

Today, the fabled Grand Bazaar in Urumqi re-opened, like so many places like this across China as the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained in this part of the world.

Dong Desheng (‘Uncle Petrov’) – a member of China’s Russian minority nationality

You may know that China has 56 minority nationalities (sometimes erroneously called ‘ethnic groups’ by outsiders), and that it has the world’s most progressive policies for the minority groups – policies that come out of the socialist tradition and were originally developed in the Soviet Union.

But you probably do not know that one of the smallest of these nationalities is the Russian one. It numbers about 15,000 and they live mostly on the northeastern border along the Heilongjiang or Amur River. Most of them came over to China during the brutal Civil War after the Russian Revolution, but they are now very much part of China.

One member of the Russian minority nationity has made quite a name for himself on Chinese short video apps, such as Kuaishou and Douyin. His name is Dong Desheng and he provides snippets into daily life on the farm and with family. On screen, he is known to his more than 2 million followers as ‘Uncle Petrov’.

But let’s make on thing very clear: Dong Desheng is fully Chinese, speaks only Chinese (in the north-eastern dialect) and is proud to be Chinese.

You can find a story here, with Desheng stressing how much China’s positive policies for groups such as his have enabled his popularity.

Why Is China Slum-Free?

One thing you will not find in China is a slum. Why?

One reason appears in the following statistics: in 1949, 97 percent of the population lived in poverty and life expectancy was 35; today, only 3 percent live in poverty (and this is unacceptable in China) and the life expectancy is 77.

Another reason can be found in this article in the People’s Daily. Well worth a read, but note the following: ‘More than 80 million units of government-subsidized housing have been built, helping over 200 million people with their housing problems, forming the world’s most extensive housing security system’.

Increasing international (and Muslim) support for China’s human rights achievements in Xinjiang (updated)

Update: the letter mentioned below initially had 28 signatories, but it now includes 50 signatories, from countries whose population totals 2 billion. Of these, 28 are Muslim-majority countries.

‘No investigation, no right to speak [meiyou diaocha jiu meiyou fanyanquan]’.

This Chinese saying is particularly relevant for some in a small number of former colonising countries who like to make unfounded statements about China. That they have been used to seeing the world in their image is obvious; that they misunderstand much of the rest of the world is also obvious. But times are changing fast, for the voices from precisely such parts are increasingly strong and being heard.

Xinjiang and its highly successful counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation programs are a case in point. In contrast to the former colonisers, many foreign delegations and journalists from other countries have visited Xinjiang and undertaken proper investigation. Notably, this includes investigators from Muslim-majority and developing countries, which support China’s approach.

One recent result of this process of investigation is a joint letter from the ambassadors of 51 countries (and counting), which was sent to the UN’s human rights council. The letter indicates strong support for China’s successes in Xinjiang and its promotion of a Chinese Marxist approach to human rights.