Why do Unconstitutionally Administrative Actions Worsen the Epidemic? / Sheng Hong


Since the anti-epidemic, Wuhan and other city governments have taken compulsory measures such as closure or isolation. There is a specious view that these coercive measures are taken for granted, and the stronger the enforcement, the smaller the unit of blockade, and the more restrictions on citizens’ freedom, the better the effect will be. This involves the judgment of the nature of government administrative behavior and of other behaviors, such as market behavior and citizen autonomy behavior. Finally, it may come down to such a question: during the outbreak of infectious diseases, does administrative action have an overwhelming advantage, so that it can violate the provisions of the Constitution on civil rights, invade citizens’ borders of freedom, and deny market behavior and citizens’ autonomy; or conversely, such unconstitutional administrative action may also lead to the deterioration of the epidemic situation? To be more abstract, whether during the period of fighting against the epidemic of infectious diseases, do the basic rights of citizens stipulated in the constitution, including personal freedom, freedom of expression, property rights, housing rights, economic freedom rights and human dignity, have serious conflicts with the anti-epidemic, so that they can be excessively compressed without due process of law? Let’s take a look at Wuhan’s performance first.

Figure 1  Number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia in WuhanUnconstitutionalData source: Wuhan Health Committee.

Note: we know that this data is affected by various factors, such as concealment, omission, delay of diagnosis, mistake of cause of death as other diseases, and government replacement factors, which can not accurately reflect the real-time dynamics, but we still assume that these factors are systematically affected, so that we can compare and relatively judge.

The figure above shows the number of additional confirmed cases in Wuhan before and after the closure of the city. What can this tell? Although we know that the number of confirmed cases in Wuhan is artificially lowered, we still regard it as a relative indicator of the number of people infected. The median latency of novel coronavirus pneumonia is 4 days, according to Zhong Nanshan’s team. (W. Guan et al., Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China, the New England Journal of Medicine, February 28, 2020). This means that on average, people who show symptoms 4 days after the closure of Wuhan are infected after the closure. If we think that there is a correlation between the number of confirmed cases and the number of infected people, and assume that the time of diagnosis is about two days after the incubation period, we can start to observe the trend of confirmed cases from January 29, so as to judge whether there is a reduction of infection after the closure of Wuhan. As can be seen from the above figure, since January 29, the number of newly diagnosed patients has increased all the way. By February 12, due to the change of leadership in Wuhan, the number of additional confirmed cases jumped to 13436 which was obviously released of the number of cases suppressed and concealed by the former, rather than the natural trend. We can count the number of additional confirmed cases within the six days after the leadership change, that is, until February 18, as the result of the preventive measures taken by the last party and government leaders of Wuhan.

In order to iron out the fluctuations caused by various factors, let’s take a look at the average. We found that the daily average number of people who were infected before the closure of the city and were hospitalized and diagnosed after symptoms (January 21-28, later referred to as “the first stage”) was 206. The daily average number of people who were infected after the closure of the city and were hospitalized and diagnosed after symptoms (January 29-February 18, later referred to as “the second stage”) was 2002. After that, the daily average number of people who had been hospitalized and diagnosed after infected (February 19 to March 4, known as the “third stage”) was 329. The second stage is almost 10 times of the first stage. Since we moved the calculation time of the second stage from the time of closure to 6 days later, the significant increase in the number of confirmed cases cannot be unrelated to the actions of Wuhan municipal government after closure. Since we know that the number of people infected is far greater than the number of people diagnosed, now we can assume that 10 times of the latter, we can think that in this stage, the measures of Wuhan government worsened the epidemic situation.

Figure 2 Average number of additional confirmed cases of novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan in the three phasesUnconstitutional2Note: Calculating according to the data of Wuhan Health Committee.

Generally speaking, the constitution is a social contract. This is a set of principles and institutional framework for the public to effectively handle their public affairs. Its core content is that in order to effectively protect the above-mentioned basic rights of the public, a public institution needs to be established. They authorize this institution to provide concret public goods, agree to pay a certain proportion of their own income for public goods, and authorize it to take legal violence when necessary. In order to ensure that this public institution does not deviate from their original intention, they declared their basic rights in the contract, and stipulated that the sole purpose of the public institution established is to protect these basic rights, as well as the principles and systems for supervising and restricting this institution, including the aforementioned “freedom of expression” (Article 35 of the Constitution), as well as  the right to criticize and impeach the government institutions and of officials (Article 41), the National People’s Congress shall be subject to the supervision of the people (Article 3), which has the duty of “supervising the implementation of the constitution” (Article 62), establish a supervisory organ (article 123), “the supervisory committee independently exercises the supervisory power in accordance with the law” (Article 127), and carry out “constitutional review”, etc. The staff in the public institutions must strictly abide by and implement this social contract. If they violate the Constitution and the constitutional rights of citizens, they will have no legal power to work in the public institutions.

In a word, this constitutional framework is to ensure that the interests of citizens can be effectively protected by this public institution, and to prevent this public institution from transforming into an organization for the private interests of those in power. A clear and simple sign is whether the public institution is in the right place it should be. In short, a society consists of three parts: one is the field of citizens, the other is the market, and the other is the public institutions. Generally speaking, the public institutions are only used to deal with public affairs, while private affairs are handled by the market and the citizens. If the public institution intrudes into the market or the citizen’s field improperly, it will bring the infringement of rights and the loss of efficiency. The principle of constitution is a summary of the experience of the rise and fall of human history. In mainland China, it also includes the painful lesson of Cultural Revolution. This is still correct and effective in the special period of the outbreak, the only difference is the specific form. For example, when the demand for a certain commodity suddenly increases, the public institutions can use the public reserve resources to stabilize the price, or limit the purchase quantity of each person; when there is a lack of resources in the field of citizens’ self-help, the public institutions can help, and so on. In very rare cases, such as places or individuals with a high risk of infection, compulsory measures may be taken after due process of law. If governments do not act in their own field or invade the market and citizen field improperly, it may lead to the result of worsening the epidemic situation.

What a theoretical government should do under such an epidemic of novel coronavirus pneumonia, there are four main points. The first is to provide real public information in a timely manner; the second is to ensure the safety of medical personnel and the adequate supply of hospital materials; the third is to establish isolation areas in a timely manner; the fourth is to help vulnerable groups. There have been a lot of reports on whether Wuhan municipal government has achieved these points. I believe that there is fair judgement, and I will not discuss it here for the moment. What we should focus on is that many people believe that the excessive coercive actions of Wuhan municipal government after the closure of the city are necessary to prevent the spread of the virus. Zhou Xianwang, mayor of Wuhan, said in a flattering interview with the state media that they did even ” a harder policy”. However, we all know that “overdoing is as if less-doing”. Moreover, the so-called “hard” is often related to the violation of civil rights. As mentioned earlier, citizens’ constitutional rights are general principles that summarize historical experience and lessons. It can not bring good results as long as the constitutional rights are easily violated in the period of epidemic prevention. In fact, the government’s unconstitutionally administrative actions will damage the interests of citizens and their lives in two aspects. First, the administrative act is a single goal, and it will damage the comprehensive interests of citizens beyond the single goal if it is enforced forcefully; second, even within the scope of achieving the single goal, the administrative act does not consider the relationship between the single goal and the cost, and may even lose more than it gains. In the end, it may increase the loss of people’s health, life and property.

Why is that? First of all, we should make clear the differences between administrative behavior and market behavior or voluntary behavior of citizens, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of their characteristics during the epidemic prevention period. We know that infectious diseases are spread by close contact between people. This involves population density, repeated contact times and contact intensity. In my article “both epidemic prevention and trade”, I pointed out that the so-called “population density” in turn is the average distance between people. The higher the population density is, the closer the distance between people is, the more likely it is to be infected. More attention should be paid to the “dynamic population density”, that is, people gather to hold various activities, that is, the population density is increased dynamically, so it is easier to spread the virus. The so-called “repeated contact times” are the times of repeated contact between people. The more repeated contact times, the more easily infected. In particular, the fixed repeated contact with others, which is called “continuous repeated contact”, the probability of infection is higher. The so-called “contact intensity” refers to the degree of contact between people. Whether it’s passing by, face-to-face conversation, handshake and greetings, or strongly scuffling, the chances of infection are different.

According to the above criteria, administrative behavior is more likely to cause virus infection than market behavior or citizen autonomy behavior. First of all, we can see the characteristics of the administrative system itself. It’s a system that operates on the aggregation of people. The most important form of administrative system is meeting, which requires people to gather together. In the administrative system, the relationship between people is fixed. The superiors and subordinates, colleagues, collaborators among units, etc. often meet or meet with each other. The contact frequency is very high, and it is a continuous repeated contact. Again, when the administrative system takes coercive measures against the citizens, they often have physical contact, or even strong wrestling, which brings the risk of virus infection. Moreover, the aggregation of administrative organs includes the aggregation between the superior and the subordinate, including the aggregation between various units, as well as the aggregation between people in different regions. This in turn forms a network channel of virus spread, which will lead to virus transmission across units, regions and levels.

In the market, people don’t have to gather. They choose what they want and pay to leave. Of course, if it is online shopping, there is no need to contact with others. Because there is no fixed time to go to the supermarket to buy, and there is no meeting with specific people for many times, people are “random encounter”, so even if there is some crowding sometimes, there is no “continuous close contact”. There are often gatherings among citizens, but they are not necessary. Most of them will stop automatically during the epidemic prevention. Because both market behavior and citizen autonomy behavior are voluntary, there is no case of high contact intensity. A typical example of the comparison between administrative behavior and market behavior is that when a person wants to go to the county town to buy medicine for his wife, he must get a certificate in the village, and is approved by the mayor of the town, and go through 24 checkpoints along the way (an Qingming, February 29, 2020). This increased people to people close contact for 26 times without reason. If there is no such administrative behavior, he only needs to go to the county directly to buy medicine, and only has one close contact with others when he buys medicine, while he will only flash past others on his motorcycle, and there is basically no possibility of infection. Which is more infectious, isn’t it clear at a glance?

Therefore, only from the characteristics of the administrative system itself, it is not an appropriate form we should rely on for support during the epidemic prevention. Because of the great risks in this form, it should be used only when other means have been exhausted and “have to”, rather than more administrative means during the epidemic prevention period, as some specious views suggest. At this time, the technical requirements for epidemic prevention are highly consistent with the principles of the constitution, that is, the constitution forbids administrative departments to cross their own borders and invade the market and citizen fields, while the technical requirements cannot allow more infectious organizations to intervene in epidemic prevention too much. This is not only not conducive to epidemic prevention, but also to the risk of administrative staff being infected. Therefore, when we see that the number of people infected after the closure of Wuhan city is disproportionately higher than the number of people infected before the closure of Wuhan City, we will have doubts about the actions of Wuhan government after the closure of the city, that is, it improperly took administrative actions across the border, resulting in infection of people who should not have been infected with the virus. Our basic criterion is whether the behavior of Wuhan government has artificially increased people’s gathering, whether it has increased the continuous repeated contact between people, and whether it has increased the intensity of contact between people.

According to the above standards, the first mistake of Wuhan government is that it still violates citizens’ right of free expression after the closure of the city, especially in the field of network, which leads to the aggregation of people with high probability of carrying virus that should not have occurred. In fact, in the years before the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, the mobile network technology has been quite developed, but the Wuhan government generally regards the mobile Internet as an “enemy” and looks for “enemy situation” in the information; completely abandons the platform that uses the Internet as the source of epidemic information, communicates and corrects the wrong information. Therefore, a large number of suspected patients can not register through the network, nor rely on the real-time rolling public queuing by the network, but only to the hospital site queuing. The hospital is a place where patients are concentrated, with the highest concentration of virus. Queuing is a form of high-density agglomeration, with a population density of about 1 million people / km2. Assuming that 20% of them have been infected, and that the probability of a random person on the street carrying the virus is only 1 ‰, the probability of patients and their families being infected will be 200 times that on the street. SIEM simulation shows that within ten days after January 23, patients and their families who can’t register online and queue up in 28 designated hospitals will increase about 1100 infected people more than online registration on average every day, and about 11000 infected people will increase in ten days. According to the case fatality rate of 0.46%, more than 50 lives were destroyed.

Figure 3  A demonstration of the increase of the number of infected people caused by the queuing of designated hospitals in WuhanUnconstitutional3Note: the data in this figure is generated by SIEM simulation. The height of  third dimension in the figure represents the number of infected people, and the high columns represents that the number of infected people caused by queuing in designated hospitals is significantly higher than that in other areas.

While eliminating Internet information, Wuhan government has adopted the lowest level screening, reporting and information concentration methods. The Internet is a flat system, from ordinary residents to the municipal government and even the central government, there is only one level, and the technology is extremely fast. However, the collection of information from the grass-roots level by the administrative departments of the government involves multiple levels, such as “grid”, sub district offices, districts, cities, provinces and the central government. Even at the municipal level, there are four levels. And the means are also very primary. It is necessary to fill in paper forms. It is also possible for many government departments to fill in different forms. The most basic form needs to be filled in in house, which brings about the risk of infection. This process will also result in information distortion due to too many levels, even due to the negligence or selfishness of administrative personnel at all levels. On the other hand, their information is highly opaque, and people don’t know whether the information they tell the government can help them improve their situation. Some people have committed suicide in despair because they can’t wait for the information of diagnosis and treatment arrangement for a long time (xinwen.com, February 17, 2020). A father ran away from home for fear of infecting his family while waiting (Jingchu vision, February 25, 2020). A daughter striked a gong on the balcony for her mother’s having no rescue for a long time (Xiaohui, February 9, 2020).

The second mistake is that under the name of city closure and isolation, Wuhan government excessively restricted citizens’ personal freedom. One of the most inappropriate and most serious consequences is the prohibition of private cars. The freedom of the person stipulated in the constitution, even during the anti-epidemic period, can be restricted only when sufficient reasons are put forward and due process of law is carried out. Wuhan’s Jan. 26 announcement of restrictions on private vehicles was only issued by Wuhan novel coronavirus pneumonia prevention and control headquarter. Later, on February 20, Wuhan traffic administration officially issued a so-called “no all vehicles” regulation. Today, private cars become the basic means of transportation, limiting the use of private cars is a kind of restriction on personal freedom. As I said in “We need transactions while the epidemic prevention”, private cars are the best “dynamic isolation facilities”. Without a private car, it increases the chance of infection.

First of all, more than 50000 medical staff are unable to drive to the hospital by themselves. Although there are volunteer groups in Wuhan to pick them up, there is a greater risk of infection. Medical staff themselves have a high risk of infection. If they are picked up and transported by relatively regular volunteers every day, they will cause more infection than driving a private car. A volunteer named He Bin died of illness in the process of transferring medical staff (Huang Jijie et al., February 4, 2020). Tens of thousands of patients also rely on 120 or volunteer cars to go to the hospital, increasing the contact between patients and other people. Patients or walk to the hospital themselves, which increases their risk of infection along the way, and the hard journey worsens the condition. Novel coronavirus pneumonia patients were diagnosed as 1102 in Wuhan (Jiedi, February 15, 2020), divided by the total number of medical staff in the city of Wuhan,58000, they were infected 17 times as many as the general public. We have previously assumed that 20% of the patients who visited the hospital were novel coronavirus pneumonia patients. If the volunteers pick the medical staff up to 50 thousand times, the patients  20 thousand times a day, with some precautions, the infection rate will be reduced to 1 / 10 of the original, and more than 200 infected people will be increased every day.

The third mistake is to block residential areas and restrict residents’ travel. In this way, security personnel must continue to stand at the gate of the community to check the residents in and out. If the probability of any person in Wuhan carrying the virus is 1 ‰, those who check in and out of the gate of the community will repeatedly contact with others for a long time, and the probability of infection will be 100 times higher than that of ordinary people. Once they are infected, they will infect all the people in and out of the community. Suppose that there are 7000 communities in Wuhan, with an average of 1000 people in each community. The residents in and out of the communities need to be checked. The probability of infection of the checked people is 100 times higher than that of other people, and the residents in these districts will also bear 100 times the risk of infection that the districts are not blocked. Assuming that there are 100 people in and out of each community every day, 700 inspectors or residents in Wuhan may be infected. If the blockade of these communities is cancelled and the residents enter and leave freely, they may also be infected, but the probability is much lower. If they don’t mind associating with others, assuming that each of them has contacted with 10 other people, seven people in Wuhan may also be infected. If they are careful, wear masks and keep a distance with others, there may not be one person infected.

Because of communities blocked, private cars banned, the information of the government administrative system is not open and opaque, a large number of new crown pneumonia patients can not get timely treatment. In a long time, there is no isolation area to go, or no cars to go, so that they can only wait at home, and infect their families at the same time. The probability of family infection is almost 100%, resulting in many cases of home infection or even death. Liu fan, a nurse, was infected with the virus because she had no protective clothing at the initial stage and passed it on to her parents and brother Chang Kai. Without medical treatment and isolation, her family died (Mr. Your Middle-class, February 17, 2020; Jiedi, February 15, 2020).A doctor said that an elderly woman hospitalized was numbed to the message of her husband’s death by novel coronavirus pneumonia. No one else had given her milk because of quarantining of the members of her family. (World Wide Web, February 12, 2020). When information is suppressed, there may be many unreported cases of family infection and death. This kind of “family infection” caused by unconstitutionally administrative behavior is an important form of increased contagion after the closure of Wuhan. However, death at home may not be counted as novel coronavirus pneumonia death data.

The fourth mistake is to use administrative means to restrict the normal life of residential areas and force the residents’ self-help activities to gather more. In the case of blockading the community, restricting personal purchase and no private cars, citizens of each community in Wuhan spontaneously organized to help themselves. They help each other buy food, share masks and medicines, encourage each other, and so on. Because of group buying, residents have to have more direct contact, but it is much better than administrative behavior. “Wuhan sister-in-law scolds” shows that in the early days, the residents of the community were always organized by the owners’ committee to buy masks, alcohol and carry out disinfection for the community, and the cadres at the basic level of the government did nothing at all. The owner’s Committee communicated with the grass-roots organizations of the government “countless times” without any reply; however, after the request of the provincial and municipal governments, the grass-roots organizations received “ready-made team” and tried to take the previous residents’ self-help as its own credit. And once doing, it takes the administrative department’s unique cumbersome procedures, let the residents fill in the form. Residents are restricted from buying food and daily necessities, but they let the nearby supermarkets’ selling them bundled. As a result, a large number of commodities the residents don’t need are distributed to them, and the price is on the high side (Sina video, February 23, 2020). What’s important is that this video has become popular all over the country because what she scolds is a common phenomenon. But at the same time, the grass-roots organizations of the government forced the residents to buy or contact with them, resulting a higher risk of infection.

The fifth mistake is to order the police and epidemic control personnel to overuse the coercive force. It’s not only overuse, but also misuse. We found that at least three citizen journalists had been forcibly arrested by the police and there was no news of their whereabouts. Many residents will soon be “admonished” by the police when they release information about seeking help or complain about not being treated or not satisfied with the treatment. These are obviously unconstitutionally administrative acts. There should also be some administrative acts of forced isolation, but generally speaking, the vast majority of people are willing to seek medical treatment or isolation, so the situation of forced isolation should be rare. And the excessive compulsory behavior is to add a word “Stronger” on the basis of artificially increasing people’s close contact. In general, at check points people can keep a distance of one or two meters. If the time is not long and the infection is caused by droplets or aerosols, the generation of droplets or aerosols is also necessary. The compulsion must lead to close contact or even strong scuffle between people. If the parties carry the virus, they will directly contact the infection. The probability is obviously higher than that of general close contact. It is reported that 404 police and auxiliary police in Hubei Province have been infected (China news network, February 26, 2020), accounting for about 4 ‰ of the total number, which is 271% higher than that of 1.1 ‰ calculated by the official number of confirmed and suspected cases in Hubei Province, apparently due to their excessive use of coercive means.

Sixth, in order to achieve the sole target of confront novel coronavirus pneumonia, the executive authorities can underestimate the treatment of other diseases and squeeze their medical resources. It should be emphasized that so-called epidemic situation means not only about novel coronavirus pneumonia but also about all diseases during this period. But executive officials who are only responsible for a single goal will not consider it that way. It has been reported that some diabetic patients cannot go to the hospital for dialysis as usual because of the normal medical resources’ being occupied; some uremic patients have died because they cannot continue dialysis. As private cars are banned, it is difficult for patients to find medical resources in a wider range (Li Shaoting et al., February 18, 2020). There are also reports that Wuhan Guangfa cancer hospital was temporarily expropriated, and cancer patients were forced to leave hospital, unable to continue hospital treatment and died (China News Weekly, February 15, 2020). This is obviously an important drawback of administrative behavior. It only cares about the orders issued by the superior government, regardless of whether the legitimate rights of the people are violated and their comprehensive interests. However, the death caused by diabetes or cancer is not “lower” than those by novel coronavirus pneumonia. The death of novel coronavirus pneumonia displaced by the death of other diseases is also a worsening of the epidemic.

Seventh, due to the lack of effective restrictions on the administrative departments of the government, there are also administrative officials who have given priority to the use of intercepted and donated materials in this epidemic, or who make their own profits under the banner of epidemic prevention and relief. Chang Kai lamented before his death that he was unable to be rescued because of his “humble position and light words”. This phenomenon of queuing according to powers has been confirmed by the disclosure of a doctor. A video shows that the owner of a small community in Wuhan bought a cart of vegetables, and Wuhan city management took them away in broad daylight. In another video, a government official claiming to have “documents” took a large bag of masks from a medical store. These are just a few examples of being disclosed, and no news of being stopped and punished by the government has been heard. A woman in Ezhou shows off on the Internet that her police husband gets four boxes of fruit a day (Tencent video, February 22, 2020), while no ordinary residents in Ezhou get any of these donations from Guizhou. Although the leaders, such as the head of the police station concerned, were punished, it was clear that this practice of giving priority to the distribution of materials donated by other provinces within the administrative system was not decided by these grass-roots officials. As a part of Hubei Province, Wuhan’s practice should be a systematic one, which obviously undermines the fairness and effectiveness of the distribution of donated materials during the period of epidemic prevention.

To sum up, the large increase in the number of people infected in Wuhan after the closure of the city is due to unconstitutionally administrative actions. This seemingly reasonable behavior in the context of epidemic prevention is actually counterproductive. It also proves that it is politically correct at all times to abide by the Constitution and protect the constitutional rights of the people, and that it will not be incorrect because of epidemic prevention. Violation of the Constitution not only worsens the epidemic situation, but also worsens the comprehensive living conditions of the people. This can be enhanced by comparing with other models. For example, prison mode. People will joke that prison is the safest now. This means that the prison is completely closed. The prisoners temporarily lose the right of freedom of citizens and cannot enter or leave freely. The measures of closure are all the way to the room. However, There was  a news recently that 806 prisoners in Wuhan prison are diagnosed with novel coronavirus pneumonia. According to the national average rate of 1.2 ‰, the number of prisoners in Wuhan prison is estimated to be about 13500, and the number of prisoners with novel coronavirus pneumonia accounts for about 6%. The proportion of the average confirmed population of novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan is 0.45%, prisoners with novel coronavirus pneumonia is 13 times the average in Wuhan. It is precisely because prisoners are not free at all, many prisoners are crowded in one room, information is controlled, prisoners have no awareness of epidemic prevention, group meals, etc., coupled with the bullying of prison guards, it is more difficult to avoid infection between people.

Another model is the national non Hubei model. Although there are many unconstitutionally administrative acts in non-Hubei areas, but the difference between this model and the Wuhan model is quite obvious. The first is that there is basically no ban on private cars like Wuhan. The second is that due to the small number of infected people, there is no large-scale queue to hospital for cross infection like Wuhan. The third is that the vast majority of non-Hubei areas do not have closed residential areas, and residents can come out and buy vegetables. Generally speaking, the unconstitutionally administrative behavior is relatively less and less intense, so it is not as large-scale infection as Wuhan caused after the closure and isolation. In order to eliminate the big difference of absolute number, we still compare the additional diagnosed cases of non-Hubei areas in China in three stages. We take the index of the average diagnosis figures of Wuhan and non-Hubei areas in the first stage as 100 respectively, and in the second stage, the average diagnosis index of Wuhan is 972, while that of non-Hubei areas in China is 160. This difference is very significant. It strongly shows that it is the unconstitutionally administrative behavior of Wuhan government after the closure of the city that forced people to have more close contact, and continuous close contact. In the name of epidemic prevention, it intensified the transmission of the virus. This kind of infection can be called “administrative infection”.

Figure 4  Comparison of the three-stage average additional diagnosed  population index between Wuhan and the whole country (non-Hubei)Unconstitutional4Note: calculated according to the data of national health and Health Commission and Wuhan health and Health Commission.

In the third stage, although the index of additional diagnosed patients in Wuhan is significantly lower than that in the second stage, this is because at this time, various temporary hospitals have been built, with the support of more than 30000 medical staff all over the country, the shortage of medical resources has been alleviated, isolation areas have been set up, and the situation of queuing up in hospitals and being unable to be isolated at home has also been greatly reduced, so the absolute number A significant decline. But in contrast, the number of confirmed cases and the relative index in non-Hubei areas decreased faster (see Figure 5). If the index of Wuhan in the third stage is compared with that of non-Hubei, the gap is larger than that in the second stage. The ratio of index of additional diagnosed population between Wuhan and non-Hubei increased from 599% in the second stage to 1429% in the third stage. This shows that Wuhan further restricts citizens’ freedom in the third stage. In February 15th, the ban on residents from the residential areas (Xu Jinbo, February 15, 2020) did not bring better results; instead, it worsened the quality of life of residents and reduced the free space, and increased the conflict between residents and the control and control personnel (the official account of the Yangtze River daily, February 20, 2020), or even the loss of life. (February 15th) In addition, the probability of infection of the given number of people is increased when the number of people traveling is greatly reduced.

Figure 5 Comparison of additional diagnosed population index in the second and third stages between Wuhan and non-Hubei areasUnconstitutional5

Why does Wuhan government take such measures? This has something to do with the structure of our government and whether officials follow the constitution. As mentioned earlier, the government is used to abide by and implement the constitution, which is to protect citizens’ constitutional rights. However, in recent years, China’s Officialdom seems to go to the opposite direction, that is, officials believe that they can only obey their superiors. This, of course, has to do with the fact that they are not bound by the people. And their superiors often only see whether they are obedient or not, and do not give them discretionary space based on the principles of the constitution. As time goes by, although the officials still swear to the Constitution on the day of constitution, they have become people who do not use their brains and only know how to execute the orders of their superiors, or try to make their superiors think they have executed the orders. Therefore, the typical practice of administrative officials is, first, to do nothing in the name of “no instructions from superiors”; second, as a form of “showing loyalty”, to resolutely implement or even “add code to implement” the instructions from superiors; third, involving their own vital interests, they can violate in private, but at the same time, eliminate all possible leaked information, so as to blind the public, especially the superiors. Therefore, in terms of the authenticity of information, there are cat and mouse games between superiors and subordinates.

In fact, anyone who lies also wants to hear the truth. An official does not want his subordinates to tell him false information, but wants to gain benefits for himself by manipulating information. This is cheating the public and the superiors. But it’s impossible. His deception will certainly set an example for his subordinates. They also want their subordinates to tell the truth, while he tells the lie himself. Thus, a kind of official culture of not telling the truth is formed. The superiors are also aware of this drawback, so they often take extreme forms of orders, such as “dead order”, “zero tolerance”, “zero clearing”, which are not so much of technical significance, but rather to use intimidation to stop lies. In the second day of February 20th, after the three days  of the “clear to zero” investigation on novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan , the woman who had been released from prison and had been infected with the disease went away from Wuhan to return to Beijing. This is a great irony to the so-called “dead order” and also the tip of the iceberg. Wang Zhonglin, the new secretary of Wuhan municipal Party committee, lamented, “we have spent so much manpower and material resources that we can’t find out all of them, and reporters can find more than 1000 patients by secretly visiting.” This is not only because of the residents’ distrust and antipathy to the government caused by the suppression of online rescue and the indefinite waiting time of community application for treatment, but also because of the game of lying and anti lying among all levels of the government. In the end, it’s hard for such a government system to distinguish the true and the false of its own information.

History will prove how wrong Wuhan government made this time. If we want to stop making the same mistakes, we need to change the government structure and official culture, and we need to put the position of officials on the basis of the constitution. Only in this way can officials remove the dust that covers conscience and wisdom. When they think about epidemic prevention, they must think under the premise of protecting citizens’ constitutional rights. They will not pay attention to the immediate concerns of their superiors only in order to deal with them; they will consider the urgent affairs of citizens’ epidemic prevention and their comprehensive interests at the same time; they will understand the concepts of index, population density and probability, and may not be without distinction between infection and no infection, or how high the possibility. They will try their best to make them play a role where the market and civil autonomy can play a role, and when they have to use administrative means, they will give priority to the means of publishing information, reminding, warning and persuasion, and only take compulsory means when they really have to; they will also finally be clear that taking unconstitutionally administrative acts will not only harm citizens And hurt their own interests and even themselves lives. Confucius said, “Fools prefer self-willed, lowly persons prefer arbitrary.” The truly intelligent person is the one who makes good use of others’ intelligence. Wuhan government will find that Wuhan, a place where universities gather, is an inexhaustible source of making up for their lack of decision-making wisdom. Of course, the highest wisdom is the heavenly way, secular, we call it “Constitutional principles”.




《中国新闻网》,“湖北404名警务人员感染新冠肺炎 4名在职警察身故”,2020年2月26日。








腾讯视频,“女子炫耀老公‘派出所的可牛了’后 湖北鄂州两官员被免职并立案”,2020年2月22日。


徐金波,“武汉居民出入小区实施更严格管控 最大限度减少流动”,《中新网》,2020年2月15日。


March 5, 2020 in Fivewoods Studio

Author: flourishflood

Economist, Confucianist

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