China Uses Coronavirus Surge as Excuse to Limit Imports

A container port is pictured in Nantong in eastern China's Jiangsu province Monday, Dec. 6, 2021. China's exports rose by double digits in November but growth declined, while imports accelerated in a sign of stronger domestic demand. (Chinatopix via AP)
Chinatopix via AP

The Chinese Communist Party’s latest excuse for the coronavirus wave it can no longer conceal is that packages from overseas brought the omicron variant to China. The party is using this notion as an excuse to limit imports.

China’s postal administration wants to “build a barrier” against coronavirus infestations allegedly delivered through international mail, the state-run Global Times reported Tuesday. 

“Virologists warned of the high risk of packages from overseas causing domestic [Chinese coronavirus] flare-ups, when the epidemic overseas is running high, as contaminated packages from epidemic-rampant countries may spread the virus to people with weak immunity through viral particles floating in the air, or people without proper protective gear,” the Global Times wrote.

Communist health officials have decided to blame coronavirus outbreaks in the cities of Beijing and Shenzhen on packages from North America, with the Beijing outbreak specifically linked to Toronto, Canada. 

Chinese virologists quoted by the Global Times claimed a piece of mail from Toronto was found to be teeming with the omicron virus and must surely have infected the recipient in Beijing around January 11, the day Beijing officials first admitted a coronavirus outbreak was in progress.

Early reports traced the outbreak to a huge wholesale food market, but now Beijing health officials are claiming everyone who came in contact with a particular bundle of documents from Canada was infected. Municipal authorities advised Beijing residents to disinfect foreign mail and wear masks and gloves while opening packages.

This is actually a reboot of an old Chinese conspiracy theory, concocted as the rest of the world grew increasingly intrigued by the theory the Chinese coronavirus leaked from the virology lab in Wuhan, China. Chinese propagandists suggested the virus might have actually originated in Europe or North America and hitchhiked to Wuhan’s notoriously unsanitary “wet markets” by riding on packages of frozen fish.

The Chinese Communist Party claims the coronavirus was completely eradicated in China a year and a half ago, using lockdown techniques that have spectacularly failed to produce comparable results anywhere else in the world, so the outbreaks currently ripping across China and shutting down major cities right before the Beijing Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin must have been imported from other countries.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advised mail carriers that Chinese coronavirus “spreads mainly from person-to-person,” not by contact with packages, although CDC allowed it “may be possible that a person can get [Chinese coronavirus] by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.” The risk of contracting the disease by handling a package is considered “very low,” if not completely impossible.

On Tuesday, the Global Times reported both domestic and foreign couriers have promised to “strictly follow virus prevention and control rules in China, including disinfecting the outer packages for all imported goods and placing virus warning labels on the packages.”

The Global Times wanted to create the impression that foreign couriers were ramping up disinfection procedures to help China quash the omicron outbreak, but in fact companies such as DHL and FedEx issued statements insisting they have been taking proper virus prevention control measures all along, and have complied with restrictions placed on package delivery by the Chinese government. Chinese delivery companies quoted in the piece issued similar statements.

The Global Times implied heavy e-commerce orders from Chinese consumers during the 2021 Spring Festival could have brought the omicron variant from overseas on imported goods. To reduce the purported risk of further contaminated deliveries, the Chinese postal bureau recommended consumers cut back on “mail and express delivery of goods from countries and regions with a high risk of [Chinese coronavirus].”

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