Despite the Chinese regime's claim that it has "defeated" coronavirus, the virus is hitting China in a second wave. President Xi's initial policies turned a local outbreak into a pandemic, and now are forcing China into another pit of disease. China can lie with statistics, but the virus gets the last word. Pictured: A vendor hands food to a customer over a barricade in Wuhan, China's central Hubei province on April 6, 2020. (Photo by Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images)
China has "defeated" the coronavirus and declared "victory," Communist Party media tells us.
A funny thing happened on the way to victory, however. The virus is hitting China in a second wave. The second wave is claiming victims, including the Party's propaganda narratives. The most dangerous of these narratives is that ruler Xi Jinping, with heaven's mandate, has an obligation to dominate the international system.
China, after reporting no new infections on March 19, said the virus had been contained. Since then, Beijing has been reporting dozens of new cases each day but has maintained that virtually all of them were "imported" -- in other words, the infected were individuals arriving from other countries.
Of the very few in-country transmissions, most, Beijing maintained, were transmissions from the imported cases.
China's official numbers of deaths and new infections, however, must be bogus. Chinese officials are taking actions that are, as a practical matter, inconsistent with the no-new-infection reports.
For instance, on March 27 Beijing closed all theaters nationwide, after re-opening them just the previous week.
In Shanghai, tourist attractions that had just resumed operations were shut again. For instance, the municipality re-closed the observation deck of the Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in China, and the nearby Oriental Pearl Tower. The Jin Mao Tower is now shuttered "to further strengthen pandemic prevention and control." Madame Tussauds, the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium, and the Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park are now dark, along with the indoor portions of another 25 attractions.
Shanghai Disneyland? "Temporarily Closed Until Further Notice."
Shanghai is not the only metropolis turning out the lights. In Chengdu, karaoke bars and internet cafes were also shut just days after Sichuan province opened up all entertainment venues.
Fuyang in Anhui province ordered the closure of "entertainment spots" and indoor swimming pools. Henan province locked down internet cafes.
Henan even quarantined an entire area, Jia county, as doctors there tested positive for the bug.
On March 31, ESPN reported that the Chinese central government had delayed the resumption of team sports.
The nationwide university-entrance exams, the gaokao, have been postponed a month, to July.
The regime has also not rescheduled its premier political events, the annual meetings of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, both originally scheduled for early March.
Finally, the authorities in Jiangxi province are not allowing people from next-door Hubei to enter, indicating they do not believe the epidemic in that disease-ridden province is over.
Does any of this matter? It does: Xi Jinping thinks he should rule the planet. "China, the country where the virus first appeared and claimed its first several thousand lives, is now using the global spread of the disease to bolster an increasingly vocal, assertive bid for global leadership that is exacerbating a yearslong conflict with the U.S.," the Wall Street Journal wrote on April 1.
As the Communist Party's Global Times on March 30 triumphantly put it, "COVID-19 Blunders Signal End of 'American Century.'"
To push America aside and seize global leadership, China got Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), to say that China's response to the coronavirus showed the "superiority of the Chinese system and this experience is worthy of emulation by other countries." Then Beijing set about making a big show of "donating" medical equipment and diagnostic kits, most notably to stricken Europe.
Finally, Xi Jinping, beginning around the first week of February, forced China back to work to demonstrate that China had ended the epidemic.
None of these showy displays will convince anyone, however, if the virus ravages China again. Unfortunately for Xi, that is what is happening: people in China are re-infecting each other. For instance, in industrial Dongguan in southern Guangdong province, workers returning to their jobsites have been carrying the coronavirus, and this has forced health officials to quarantine other workers. China's leader can jump-start the economy or throttle the coronavirus, but he cannot do both at the same time.
When the second wave of coronavirus infections hits China hard, Xi Jinping's boasts about the superiority of Chinese communism will begin to sound hollow, absurd even.
Xi's initial policies turned a local outbreak into a pandemic, and now they are making even more people sick and forcing China into another pit of disease. China's inaccurate diagnostic kits and substandard protective gear donated around the world along with the new infections will show the truth: communism is incompetent if not downright malign.
Incompetent and malign communism in turn means Xi's predicted decline of America will again have to be pushed back to another day.
China can lie with statistics, but the virus gets the last word. "Victory" over both COVID-19 and the United States is still far out of sight.
Gordon G. Chang is the author of The Coming Collapse of China and a Gatestone Institute Distinguished Senior Fellow.