In Ñspel: The Guardian view on China’s Covid U-turn: from all-out war to all but nothing

People hold white sheets of paper in protest over Covid restrictions, after a vigil for the victims of a fire in Urumqi, China, on 27 November. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters
Ppl hold ẃît śīts v pepr in protest ovr Covid rstrix́nz, aftr a vijil fr ɖ victimz v a fîr in Ŭṛmćī, Ćîna, on 27 Nvmbr. Foṭgraf: Toṃs Pītr/Rôtrz

Ɖ Gardịn vy on Ćîna’z Covid U-trn: fṛm ol-ǎt wor t ol bt nʈñ

(Transcription of a Guardian editorial of 13 Dec. 2022)

Ɖ cuntri hz abrupli abandnd ɖ vast bulc v its harś meźrz t cnten c’roṇvîṛs folowñ protests. Ɖt cariz cnsidṛbl risc

Tyzde 13 Dsmbr 2022

Dspt ɖ r’jidti v ɖ Ćînīz Coḿnist parti’z poḷtics n grip on pǎr, it cn smtmz ćenj cors at a starṭlñ pes. Ɖ most obvịs wz its ic̣nomic trn fṛm Mǎ t marcit. Mor rīsntli, it flipt fṛm its wn-ćîld poḷsi v liṃtñ brʈs t activli trayñ t būst ɖm.

Bt ɖ trn’rnd on its ziro-Covid poḷsi z trūli astoṇśñ in its spīd. In mid-Octobr, Bêźñ wz stl bostñ v an “ol-ǎt wor” on Covid-19, dspt its evidnt unssteṇbiḷti n pyṇtiv ic̣nomic ifcts. Tū wīcs ago, ɖ foṛn miṇstri’z spocsprsn twītd sceɖñli v 1m Covid deʈs az part v “Ɖ prîs v ‘frīdm’ in ɖ YS … Ẃt w wont z t pṛtct ǎr ppl’z lîvz.”

Nǎ ɖ guvnmnt hz cast of cntrolz in a matr v dez. Qoṛntīnrūlz n travl rstrix́nz hv bn sgnificntli rlaxt; ɖ guvnmnt hz scrapt its prîṃri Covid-tracñ ap. Xprts worn ɖt hospitlz cd b rapidli oṿẃlmd; wn anaḷsis sjsts ɖt p t 2.1 miłn lîvz cd b at risc. Tstñ buɖz r biyñ dsmantld, bt Bêźñ oʈoṛtiz sd fīvrclinics in ɖ siti rsivd 16 tîmz mor peśnts on Súnde ɖn ɖ wīc bfr.

An end t ziro Covid wz loñ oṿdy. Uɖr cuntriz hv s’xesḟli x’td similrli tît rstrix́nz ʈru vax̣neśn n ɖ grajl rīlaxeśn v meźrz. Bt ɖ lac v preṗreśn, ɖ tîmñ v ɖs voltfās – at ɖ hît v wintr – n ɖ scrapñ v most (ɖo nt ol) mitgeśnmeźrz ol xasbet ɖ riscs. Oldr ppl in ptiklr r unḍvax̣netd, n Ćîna stl dpndz on les ifctiv dmestic vaxīnz ɖt wr dzînd t cǎntr ɖ orijinl stren.

Ɖ xtrordnri anti-ziro-Covid protests ɖt brouc ǎt last munʈ hv clirli pleid a part in ɖs dsiźn. Bt ic̣nomic factrz me wel hv bn mor dsîsiv. Foxcón’z fǎndr ptiśnd ɖ oʈoṛtiz t īz p arnd a munʈ ago, wornñ ɖt Ćîna’z pziśn in globl s’plîćenz wz undr ʈret. Octobr’z particongres, s’mentñ Śī Jinpñ’z pziśn az Ćîna’z most pǎrfl līdr sins Mǎ, z sefli ǎt v ɖ we.

Rīlaxeśn olso pozz p’liticl riscs, dspt ɖ unḍstanḍbl unpopylaṛti v ziro Covid in sitiz. Ɖ cuntrisîd wz reḷtivli un’fctd bî rstrix́nz; it z olso mć wrs srvd bî hlʈcer, n ɖrfr wrs iqipt t handl a srj in cesz. W r lîcli t hír far les abt sicnis n deʈs ɖr, n sm wundr f mni Covid deʈs wl b ascrîbd t uɖr cōzz. Bt ẃl ɖ partistet z xprt in olṭrñ ɖ naṛtiv, it z hard t d so oṿnît. Hvñ hamrd hom ɖ mesij ɖt mć v ɖ wrld hd bn caḷsli abandnd bî its līdrz t a dedli ilnis, ofiślz nǎ sudnli portre Covid az litl wrs ɖn a bad cold. Stetmīdia hz swićt fṛm hîlîtñ ɖ tol v loñ Covid t anǎnsñ ɖt ɖ ćansz v gtñ it r “vri lo”, n īvn qotñ a doctr qsć̣nñ its vri xistns.

Hd Ćîna pord a frax́n v ɖ eḟt n rzorsz dvotd t tstñ n locdǎnz intu vax̣neśn n planñ ɖ end v ziro Covid, it wd nǎ b in a mć betr ples. Ɖs rvrsl z nesṣri, bt śd nt b vyd az prūf v an ifctiv slf-c’rex́n mec̣nizm – ptiklrli ẃn pṛtstrz r peyñ ɖ prîs fr ɖer dfayns. Rɖr, it z evidns v ɖ fełr v a sistm ɖt rerli lisnz t its sitiznz n z incrisñli subjict t ɖ dsiźnz v wn man.

Instroduction to Ñspel

"House by the Railroad," Edward Hopper, 1925

15/12/2022

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