China Quietly Reimposes Restrictions On Movement As Outbreak's 'Second Wave' Looms

The Communist Party of China has just cemented its reputation as a master of "doublethink".

Late last night (Monday morning in Beijing), China reported 108 new cases of the virus, with 98 of them allegedly tied to travelers (presumably Chinese nationals) returning to the mainland from abroad. As many swiftly pointed out, the new number, the highest since March 6, when China reported 143 new cases, and marked an eyebrow-raising departure from the trend of new cases that had slowed to almost nothing, with whatever new cases confirmed almost immediately being blamed on foreigners.

Beijing has been telling citizens for weeks that, thanks to the hard work, sacrifice and dedication of the people, China has triumphed over the virus. But as we've pointed out, that isn't entirely true: some municipalities have reimposed lockdown measures following aftershock-outbreaks, and on Monday, officials in Wuhan announced that they would tighten screening of residents trying to leave the city now that the lockdown is over (as fears about the possibility of asymptomatic travelers from the city igniting a 'second wave' across the country really start to sink in).

The trend of so-called 'asymptomatic' cases - mostly foreigners, as identified by Chinese authorities - outnumbering those with emergent symptoms has continued, unsurprisingly, despite government's best attempts to stamp it out.

On March 28, the CPC banned the entry of foreigners into China. But that hasn't stopped state media from blaming 'travelers' crossing into the country via the border from Russia for spreading the coronavirus in the Chinese border city of Suifenhe in the north-eastern Heilongjiang province, where hundreds of cases have recently been reported.

Al Jazeera described the border between Russia and China on Monday as "a front line in the country's fight against a resurgence of the coronavirus" as officials in Beijing blamed a group of travelers returning from Russia's far east for roughly half of the new cases reported yesterday. It noted that fears of a second wave have been amplified as Beijing continues to tout its plans to ease restrictions on movement while continuing to tighten them in other places and in other ways.

Back in the US, as states haphazardly reach out to factories in China in a mad dash for life-saving supplies, China said Monday that some coronavirus-related products that have been shipped abroad from mainland factories have needed to be returned because of quality control issues.

This, in turn, has disrupted supplies of life-saving medical equipment, harming China's 'reputation' in the international community.

As China accuses the US of 'racism' for its early travel restrictions on travelers who had recently visited China, never forget that authorities in Beijing have ordered a crackdown on Africans traveling in China as Beijing prepares to blame them (along with the US and the UK) for starting the second wave.

Authorities recently apologized for allegedly discriminating against 'our African brothers', and slammed the US's allegations as smears and falsehoods, per RT.

While China likes to point at Japan and Indonesia as neighbors who are struggling with larger outbreaks than the mainland, in reality, China's response has been nowhere near as effective as South Korea's.

South Korea, at one point the worst affected country outside China, is no longer in the top 20 by number of confirmed coronavirus cases, which was just 9 yesterday. Since China is much larger than South Korea, it is much more difficult to contain any kind of nationwide pandemic.

Few projections offer much insight into the arc of China's outbreak, since nobody really knows for sure about the inputs (number of cases, rates of increase  etc.). But as photos showed tens of thousands of Wuhan residents fleeing the city by train, by plane or by car a week ago, one could be forgiven for being left with the distinct impression that Beijing is deliberately trying to reignite its outbreak.