China unleashed a deadly virus upon the world, told us to protect ourselves from it by destroying our economies, now redefines freedom without natural rights, and tells us to envy their servitude. Li Yuan writes in The New York Times that, in the aftermath of the pandemic, China is freer than the US, and Americans are right to envy that "freedom." In short, The New York Times is printing bold-faced propaganda to boost the communist way of life over American and western liberty. It is a shameful lie.
In the latest New York Times op-ed to decry western values and culture, Li Yuan writes that China is in fact a more free nation than the US or her western allies. It is a ploy that, if effective, will make Americans more aligned with being enslaved to government than with the fight for natural rights and freedoms.
Li writes: "The pandemic has upended many perceptions, including ideas about freedom. Citizens of China don't have freedom of speech, freedom of worship, or freedom from fear—three of the four freedoms articulated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt—but they have the freedom to move around and lead a normal day-to-day life. In a pandemic year, many of the world's people would envy this most basic form of freedom."
But these are not freedoms, they are the illusion of freedom. These are the kinds of freedoms granted by government, not originating with our free will. Freedoms that can be taken away with the stroke of a pen or the stomp of a boot are not freedoms. This freedom of movement that Li writes about only exists as long as the communist government allows it to exist. That's not freedom.
During the early days of the pandemic, before the west foolishly took China's advice and tanked our economies, societies, and nations, China was already implementing lockdown measures so extreme that, from the accounts available, people were locked into their homes where they waited to die. Their intensive lockdown strategy, which arguably led to their freedom of movement now, was a violation of human rights. The Chinese government, however, is comfortable violating human rights—they do it all the time.
The Uyghurs, which so many in the west seem to think are a fictional people conjured out of full cloth by China's detractors, are a prime example of the CCP's comfort at abandoning human rights in favour of order.
"While many countries are still reeling from Covid-19, China—where the pandemic originated—has become one of the safest places in the world," Li writes. "The country reported fewer than 100,000 infections for all of 2020. The United States has been reporting more than that every day since early November."
This is a drastic misunderstanding of what freedom is. Freedom is not freedom from danger, it is the freedom to assess danger and risks for one's self and behave as you see fit, not simply as the government permits.
Li notes that "China’s freedom of movement comes at the expense of nearly every other kind. The country is about the most surveilled in the world. The government took extreme social-control measures at the beginning of the outbreak to keep people apart—approaches that are beyond the reach of democratic governments."
But the message is that these things don't impact the average person, the person who lives within the lines, accepts their small luxuries in exchange for their liberty and rights, and doesn't worry their pretty little heads about surveillance or social-control. The compliant citizen is rewarded with trinkets, while those who fight back against the oppression are simply removed.
Li quotes a businessman who is overjoyed at spending time in China after a stint in the west, saying "China 'feels a bit like the Epcot Center at Disney... It's like the microcosm of the West is still here, but the West is shut down at the moment.'"
Apparently having a nation feel like an intentionally constructed amusement is a good thing. This should not be what any nation is striving for. Instead, nations that are founded on freedom and the right of every individual toward self-determination would not be closed, intentionally designed spaces, but places where a person can achieve, grow, and strive on their own terms, without the limits of the amusement park gates.
"It isn’t clear whether this shift in perception can be sustained after the pandemic ends," Li writes. "But the West may find it has to work harder to sell its vision of freedom after China has made its model seem so attractive."
The New York Times has been intent on publishing op-eds and articles that demean and belittle the American thirst for freedom, equality, and limited government interference. But this is a step too far. The New York Times has called communism freedom in an effort to undermine democracy and American values.
The question becomes why The New York Times is capitulating to the communist government, a government that commits human rights abuses against its own people, knowingly allowed a virus to spread around the world before altering international health organizations, and will only benefit from the decline of American liberty and power.