The Tao is very simple, and the fallacy is very “complex”
—– Why should we unequivocally condemn aggression?
A few days ago, I saw Chinese compatriots in Ukraine complained that some people in the domestic network made insulting jokes on Ukraine, saying that they wanted to “host” Ukrainian girls, which was quickly translated into Ukrainian, causing the indignation of Ukrainian people and transferring the anger towards Chinese overseas Chinese in Ukraine, which caused them to be cursed and their vehicles to be smashed. I think the trouble is caused by these scum without conscience, but the speech insulting Ukraine in China is mainly caused by the artificially controlled public opinion environment in China and the biased reports of the official media. In addition, the authorities refused to condemn the Russian aggression and publicly defended it, saying that the reasons for the Russian invasion of Ukraine were “very complex”; therefore, some people pry into “intention of the leader” and make extreme remarks. However, the authorities’ dilemma in diplomacy and inconsistencies in diplomatic statements are rooted in the lack of civilized value foundation in foreign policy and its guiding ideology.
When the United States and other western countries evacuated overseas citizens, the Chinese embassy did not call on the Chinese to evacuate. At the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Chinese Embassy suggested that the Chinese people stick the Chinese flag on their cars. This move is an extremely wrong signal, which is tantamount to saying: welcome Russian army! Can we understand like this? Certainly. Is the Chinese flag posted for Ukrainians to see? Chinese expatriates have lived there for many years, and most of them live in harmony with the local people. Did they start to hate the Chinese people as soon as Russia invaded? Obviously not. That’s for the Russian army. It means that I’m Chinese (I’m friendly), please don’t hit me. This is a hypothetical situation. The Russian army has invaded. Its meaning is to hope the Russian army come in and to believe that the Russian army can come in. “You can shoot Ukrainians, but you should see my flag clearly. I’m not Ukrainian.” This meaning will obviously annoy the people of the host country.
This is obviously not a technical error, but a problem of values. This is the attitude towards Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Is it just? Is it in conformity with international law? Does it conform to the rules of human civilization? Putin made a speech on the eve of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine, including the historical reasons for the Russian invasion; the problems of undemocratic and corruption in Ukraine itself; NATO’s eastward expansion poses a threat to Russia, Ukrainian politics is manipulated by western countries, and so on. Make the problem complicated. However, all the reasons he said were far-fetched and could not come to the conclusion that war should be used to solve the problems.
Lao Tzu said, “my words are easy to understand and easy to do. No one can understand and no one can do in the world.” Among them, “my words” is “Tao”. It means that the Tao is very simple, easy to understand and easy to implement; But people in the world seem not able to understand or implement it. Why? This is because people can’t see that the Tao will bring benefits to mankind as whole in the long run. For their immediate interests, they use seemingly “complex reason” to prove why they should deviate from the Tao; so “no one can understand, no one can do.” What is the Tao between countries? That is the basic rule of human civilization. This rule has two main points. First, as Kant said, it is a “universal law”. It means that a person is willing to follow the law, which he or she is willing to be regarded as the law of all people, which means that this law is the same to and beneficial to all people. Second, the principle of nonviolence. That is, disputes and conflicts should be resolved by peaceful means rather than war.
For the first point, the test is, when a rule is declared, do you want it to apply to you? For example, President Putin said in his prewar speech that Ukraine was wrongly established as a state due to Lenin’s mistake, so it should be corrected by war. In human history, the dividing and merging of countries and the borders between countries are often determined by violent means such as war. There are many injustices in history. As Hannah Arendt said, “no matter what kind of political organizations human beings can form, they all originate from crime.” (2011, page 9) today’s independent countries and borders are determined by international agreements after World War II and the cold war. If we want to solve historical problems with war today, there will be no peace for mankind. Moreover, historically, Russia owes far more blood debt to other countries than other countries owe it. Russia is a military empire. Most of its territory today is seized by its using force, including the territory seized from China. Can China launch a war against Russia to restore China’s former territory in the same way as Putin said? Obviously, Putin’s logic cannot pass this test.
On the second point, the principle of nonviolence is a denial of Putin’s logic. Ukraine’s problems should be solved by the Ukrainian people themselves. Moreover, Russia has more problems in “undemocratic” and “corruption” than Ukraine. Putin should first solve his own problems, let alone launch a war. The principle of nonviolence is the most basic principle. No matter how many conflicts there are between mankind, force should not be used. It can only be used in very few cases. First, resist aggression; the second is to resist slavery. In fact, the premise of these two points is that the other party used force first. Claiming to launch a war for a noble or necessary purpose cannot achieve a good purpose, because “war creates more bad people than it kills”. Mr. Jiang Qing said, “Good purpose can only be achieved by good means.” When it is claimed that evil means can be used for good purpose, the purpose has changed. Moreover, what Putin pursues is not a good purpose, so all the reasons for invading Ukraine listed in Putin’s speech cannot pass the test of this principle.
The two main points of the above civilized rules can be used not only to test the norms of international relations, but also to test the nature of a country’s internal political structure. It can connect countries and individuals. Generally speaking, the international civilized rules are expressed as the principle of constitutional rule at home. Roughly speaking, it includes the principles of market economy, rule of law and freedom of expression. They are all nonviolent or under “controllable violence”. The so-called “controllable violence” refers to the government’s use of power and its violent resources under the constraints of democracy and the rule of law to combat illegal violence and criminal acts, not for the purpose of deviating from the Constitution and law. The market is a collection of voluntary transactions between equal people. The rule of law is a fair judicial rule under the restricted power, and free expression means not to abuse public violence to interfere with citizens’ expression. Similarly, if the “universal law” is realized at home, it is necessary to eliminate the oppression, deprivation and restriction of others by some people of the country, which requires equal protection of everyone’s rights—economic freedom, freedom of expression and fair justice. Countries that deviate from the above constitutional principles are actually in a state of hostility with their people. As long as the countries are extended outward, it is violence against other countries, is a war of aggression.
From a longer history, Czarist Russia and its successor Soviet Union are a country that oppresses, enslaves and deprives the people at home. It implements rules that violate the basic rules of civilization. The people do not have full economic freedom, their speech is monitored and controlled, and there is no fair judicial system. Therefore, it has always been a country against the people. Expending this anti civilization rule outward, tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union are an empire specialized in military. It conquered and invaded neighboring countries with violence, formed its territory and formed some of its advantages. The international community does not discriminate against Russia itself, but condemns its violation of the rules of civilization; At the same time, in view of its long-term implementation of such acts of internal oppression and external aggression, it has also formed a certain habitual view of Russia, that is, it is an aggressive Empire and remains vigilant and even hostile to it. One of the reasons for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is to reintegrate Ukraine into the territory of Czarist Russia and become a part of his direct rule. This nostalgia for Czarist Russia is a nostalgia for the anti-civilization rules of oppression and aggression pursued by Czarist Russia; his rule is a violent rule without control; this is the anti-civilization rule that runs through the inside and outside, and it cannot be accepted by the world.
The Ukrainian people’s centrifugation of and fear of Russia have been formed in the Soviet era. During the Soviet period, Ukraine was an administrative region under the governance of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union’s treatment of Ukraine did not bring benefits to it, but caused several major disasters. For example, the Soviet Union imposed collectivization and severely suppressed the resistance of Ukrainian farmers. In January 1930 alone, 1700 riots and protests were suppressed; in 1930, 75000 people were expelled to remote areas such as Siberia. Due to agricultural collectivization and excessive grain collection, there have been many famines, including the great famine from 1932 to 34, which killed about 4 million people, about 1 / 8 of the population of Ukraine; in 2006, the Ukrainian parliament passed a resolution that it was a Soviet conspiracy to genocide in Ukraine (plokhy, 2019, pp. 435-436). The second disaster is that during the “great cleansing” period, 270000 people in Ukraine were arrested and about 130000 people were executed; these include many party and government leaders in Ukraine (Ploki, 2019, P. 438). The third disaster is the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, which killed more than 90000 people and caused 270000 cancers (Baidu Encyclopedia). Behind these disasters, there is discrimination and malice from the Soviet Union against Ukraine, which is similar to the oppression of the Empire on the colonies, and naturally makes most Ukrainians hate the Soviet Union. This emotion will also continue to Russia, the successor of the Soviet Union.
Some people may disagree with the statement that “the Soviet Union has malice towards Ukraine”. It doesn’t matter. Even goodwill will cause harm to Ukraine and all the people of the Soviet Union. Because planned economy and public ownership are systems that will harm everyone, although the founders of this economic system might have a little goodwill in the beginning. Most importantly, this economic system violates the above-mentioned rules of nonviolence. The planned economy means that the planning authority formulates the production and consumption plan, because this plan is bound to be different from the market economy in which people trade voluntarily, so it must be enforced. If people deviate from the planned track according to their own wishes, the planned economy will collapse, so violence must be used to maintain the plan. If people have economic freedom, they will spontaneously carry out production and investment, which is contrary to public ownership. Therefore, to maintain public ownership, private property rights must be eliminated. This is manifested in cracking down on people’s voluntary transactions (it is called “speculation”) and any attempt of private production and operation; these attacks have taken advantage of state violence.
As mentioned above, if the government deviates from the constraints of the rule of law, it will improperly use violence and put itself in a state of war against the people. This was the case in the Soviet period, especially the terrorist rule established by Stalin, which was based on the abuse of state violence to suppress the people and suppress different opinions. Ukraine, like other Soviet republics and their people, has suffered. Today, Russia is not a country whose violence is effectively controlled. Its political opposition leaders were assassinated, poisoned or imprisoned from time to time. Although Putin claimed that he did not know it, under his rule, the insecurity of the political opposition still made it difficult to truly implement democracy; Putin suppressed non-governmental organizations. In 2009, he closed more than 9000 non-governmental organizations; He restricted free media, controlled all national television networks, and canceled satire and discussion programs (Li Ying, 2010). Behind all this is state violence.
Due to the exploitation and injustice of the Soviet Union to the participating republics and its deprivation of the rights of the general public, it cannot be defended by the centripetal defense of the republics, but also alienated by the people. Once there is a historical opportunity, the disintegration of the Soviet Union is very natural. This is not caused by the conspiracy of the United States and Western countries. It is completely defeated by its own anti civilization nature. Almost at the same time as the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Treaty Organization, a military organization controlled by the Soviet Union in Eastern European countries, also announced its dissolution. Eastern European countries have been incorporated into the economic and political system of the Soviet Union for a long time. Economically, they are repressed by the planned economic system of the Soviet Union, politically manipulated by the Soviet Union, and their sovereignty is likely to be violated by the Soviet Union at any time. Soviet tanks have driven into Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There is neither economic benefit nor security for these countries. Once there is an opportunity, they would escape from the Warsaw Pact. Therefore, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact was also caused by the anti-civilization rules of the Soviet Union, and it was not for how clever the strategy of the United States and Western countries was.
Of course, in the competition between the two superpowers, the pressure of the United States works. Due to the principle of constitutional rule—market economy, rule of law and freedom of expression— not only a “universal law” that is fair to every citizen, but also the improvement of efficiency, economic development and innovation due to the protection of people’s freedom and rights. On the contrary, planned economy, judicial injustice and repressing speech would only reduce efficiency, suppress growth and curb innovation. Therefore, in terms of economic strength, the Soviet Union is far behind the United States and Western countries, which is the basis of a country’s military strength. On the other hand, due to the suppression of freedom of expression and the obstruction of academic discussion, there was a lack of mechanism and source of theoretical innovation and technological innovation in the Soviet Union, and military technology depended on these innovations to a great extent. The Soviet Union can only obtain resources for scientific and technological innovation through exchanges with the western scientific communities or espionage, but this method of obtaining technology will make the Soviet Union lag behind at least one beat, so that the Soviet Union will also fall behind in the competition of military technology. Russia, which inherited the Soviet Union, still inherited some characteristics of the Soviet Union, such as the suppression of freedom of expression. At the same time, its expansion strengthen the vigilance of the West, which watch out for Russia to use its own technology, and block it. Therefore, Russia is still a second rate country in military technology.
As for the eastward expansion of NATO accused by Putin, from a large strategic point of view, was caused by Russia itself. On the one hand, its domestic anti civilization rules can be considered to extend outward, and all countries under its control or influence will be hurt. Just look at the dictatorships in Belarus and Kazakhstan supported by Putin. Moreover, the painful memory of the Soviet Union makes these Eastern European countries or former Soviet countries unwilling to return to Russia’s sphere of influence. They fear the threat of Russia as a military empire. Moving closer to the west is a wise choice to ensure their own security. On the one hand, it will not hurt their sovereignty by joining NATO. On the other hand, they believe that NATO has the ability to confront Russia. The key is that these countries voluntarily apply to join NATO, not because of the coercion and inducement of western countries. Why didn’t they take the initiative to move closer to Russia? This is Russia’s own failure. Instead of reviewing its own problems, it says that this is a conspiracy of the United States and Western countries, and even at the cost of killing the Ukrainian people to stop NATO’s eastward expansion. Isn’t it the opposite of the resolution of the problem? This will make neighboring countries feel threatened and strengthen their willingness to join NATO.
Of course, the constitutional system of the United States and other countries cannot guarantee that they will not make mistakes in the world, otherwise there will be hope for permanent world peace. President Putin accused the United States and NATO of invading Iraq and bombing Serbia, which is reasonable in itself, but it cannot defend his invasion of Ukraine. If he thinks these invasions are wrong, his invasion of Ukraine is also wrong; if he thinks he is right to invade Ukraine, he has to admit that the United States and NATO are right. But you can’t prove yourself right with the mistakes of others. And there is another difference, which makes Putin’s aggression different from the aggression of the United States and NATO. As mentioned earlier, Putin’s aggression against Ukraine is an extension abroad of political principles and of the use of violence at home; the international aggression or bombing of the United States and NATO violates their constitutional principles at home. The background of their international mistakes is different, but the reason is the same. They both violate the principle of nonviolence. The core principle of democratic principle is that a public decision-making needs the consent of stakeholders. I once suggested that if the United States wants to send troops to Iraq to overthrow dictator Saddam Hussein, if the Iraqi people cannot vote, they can ask Iraqis abroad to vote. The war cost the Iraqi people 600000 lives.
Historically, the constitutional system within a country is an institutional structure discovered by human beings after long-term exploration and paying a lot of blood. The most prominent manifestation of the process of human civilization is the reduction of human violent mortality from 15% to less than 4% (Morris, 2015, P. 481); the constitutional system has further solved the problem of resolving human conflicts in a peaceful way. If the rules contained in this constitutional system are introduced to the world, the problem of permanent world peace can be solved. However, this is a big problem because countries are not similar in terms of scale and strength. They cannot be as in a society— it is impossible to win or lose in the conflict between people, and can only form a balance in the long-term running in and finally form a rights system. Moreover, in military technology, technological breakthroughs often break the existing equilibrium. Therefore, it is difficult to form a world constitutional system. Even those constitutional countries will violate the rules of international civilization without an effective world government and a mature international constitutional mechanism. As a result, the above-mentioned US or NATO aggression occurred.
However, although the United States and other constitutional countries are not bound internationally and often do things that violate the rules of international civilization with their military advantages, they are still bound because they abide by the rules of civilization, the rule of law and freedom of expression at home. Free media often stand on the opposite side of the national perspective and expose the ugliness and losses of foreign wars. For example, the New York Times disclosed the secret report of the US Department of defense on the Vietnam War, and CBS exposed the prisoner-abuse scandal of the US military in Iraq; This will lead to the antiwar wave of domestic public opinion, and will also make the people’s antiwar will affect the parliament’s attitude towards the war. It allows a small number of opposition voices, such as Illinois Senator Barack Obama presented antiwar speech in 2002, which was only one at that time. A few years later, he was elected the President of the United States. Therefore, although the United States and other countries would make some mistakes in foreign war, they can finally be corrected. Countries without constitutional rules may lack this check and balance mechanism, which would make the war crueler, more unable to be stopped and corrected, until bring huge casualties and until the aggressor countries be completely defeated, such as Japan and Germany in World War II. Therefore, when we condemn the aggressive acts of Russia, the United States or NATO from a neutral position, we should also see that Russia’s aggressive acts are even more intolerable.
Russia’s war behavior proves that the concerns of neighboring countries such as Ukraine are justified. Russia’s threat has become the reality of invasion. Ukraine’s application to join NATO is not a conspiracy of NATO’s eastward expansion, but a rational move to face Russia’s threat and enhance its own security. Putin’s “NATO threat” seems to be an excuse to eliminate it by the “realized threat” on Ukrainian land. Countries are bordering on each other. If neighboring countries deploy defense forces at home, it is said to be a “threat”, which is obviously too overbearing. In this way, if Russia uses this excuse on China, will it be ok? Behind Putin’s excuse is the new hegemony plan – New Eurasiaism, an ambition similar to the “Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Circle” and a delusion of hegemony across Eurasia, which reminds people of the bloody expansion of Czar Russia and the wild massacre of the Chinese by the Japanese army. He wants to extend the anti-civilization rules to the world. “Eexpanding territory” is not only the customary trick of ancient kings to improve their reputation and consolidate their power, but also Putin’s militaristic means to consolidate and extend his power.
However, anti-civilization rules are not only barbaric, but also inefficient. As long as Putin sticks to this anti civilization rule, he will fundamentally fail – starting from his values. Anti-civilization rules, enslaving and invading others with violence, whether at home or abroad, will cause widespread hostility, which has neither moral appeal nor political cohesion. Therefore, it is not surprising that his war of aggression was generally opposed by the Russian people at home – Anti War demonstrations broke out in 147 cities (National Public Radio, 2022), He was condemned by the vast majority of countries – 141 countries at the UN General Assembly. He is isolated in politics, his strength is greatly weakened. At the same time, due to his suppression of freedom of expression, Russia lacks innovative mechanisms and is far inferior to the United States and other western countries in military technology. His military weapons are more than a generation behind. When the United States and other countries support Ukraine’s advanced weapons, Putin cannot win on the battlefield. Although Putin himself is intelligent and can win by surprise in tactics, he cannot make up for the major defects in strategy. He is doomed to failure. A wise man will not stand with him.
The above civilized rules do not refer to the unique rules of the western world. From the perspective that the western world has not solved the problem of permanent world peace, they are civilized rules that go beyond the existing western rules and are universal. Therefore, it is also the rule followed by Chinese civilization. Especially since modern times, China has suffered from foreign aggression and tasted the pain of being bullied in the jungle of social Darwinism. Russia, as a specific country, was the worst one to bully and invade China in modern times. When we see people cheering for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, just as we see people cheering for Japan’s invasion of China, we are deeply hurt; if such a person is a Chinese, it makes people feel that he is “regarding enemy as his father”. Applying the rules of civilization, “Do not do to others what you do not want others to do it to you”, China, which is unwilling to be invaded, should obviously condemn all aggression. No matter who the aggressor is, aggression is the same. As a historical Chinese, we should condemn all wars of aggression. However, the diplomatic attitude is ambiguous, which is not in line with the hatred and disgust of the war of aggression determined by Chinese history.
Moreover, Chinese civilization is a civilization with a long tradition of cosmopolitanism. In the Book of Changes, there is the theory of “World civilization”. “World” and “civilization” are inseparable. That is, the world is not only a physical world, but also a world with civilized rules. Only when the cultural value of benevolence, righteousness and morality appeared, the world began to become “the world”. As Gu Yanwu’s famous sentence shows, we should distinguish between “perishing of a country” and “perishing of the world”. The perishing of a country is just “changing the surname of the ruler”; “perishing the world” is “loss of benevolence and righteousness, and the beasts’ eating people, people’s eating with each other”. If there are no civilized rules, the world is just a wilderness, not a human society. In the existing constitutional texts of mainland China, the principles of “market economy”, “independent trial by the court” and “freedom of expression” are also written. Although they are far from being realized, they are at least consistent with the rules of civilization in the text. The Constitution and cultural tradition together constitute civilized rules that run through domestic and foreign countries. Therefore, starting from the constitutional text and the value of cosmopolitanism, as a Chinese in culture and constitutional text, we should also take a clear stand against Putin’s war of aggression.
National Public Radio, “Russia arrests nearly 5,000 anti-war protesters this weekend”, March 7, 2022
“Baidu Encyclopedia” and “Chernobyl accident” are reviewed by the entry compilation and application project of “popular science China” Science Encyclopedia.
Hannah Arendt, On Rrevolution, Yilin publishing house, 2011.
Li Ying, “An analysis of the relationship between the ’empire’ under Putin and the media”, master’s thesis, 2010.
Morris, Ian, War, CITIC press, 2015.
Plokhy, Serhii, The Gate of Europe: the 2000 History of Ukraine, CITIC publishing group, 2019.
It is said that after a high-speed train bound for Xi’an arrived, passengers from Beijing and Zhengzhou were forcibly taken to an underground parking lot and ordered to return along the same way the next day (Tencent, 2021). No one seemed to explain why. It is also said two trains bound for Beijing to be stopped when two close contacts respectively were found, and “collectively isolate” all passengers. The results of nucleic acid tests were negative for all personnel, including the close contacts (Liu Jianrui et al., 2021). Ejina has isolated all tourists who are traveling there because a pair of returning tourists have been diagnosed. Shanghai Disneyland was closed and all field visitors were tested because a visitor the day before confirmed the case of COVID-19 (Urban Express, 2021). The community I live in (I hide its name because the problem is not caused by the community itself) is completely closed because two residents (a couple) are diagnosed. The residents of the building are not allowed to go out, and all the residents of the unit are required to be isolated in the hotel. And the isolation time has far exceeded 14 days, reaching 25 days. The travel code of some Chengdu residents, it is said that 80000 people, suddenly turned yellow one day, and their personal freedom was limited. The reason is that they are accidentally within 800 meters from a COVID-19 patient (Xiaohan New Vision, 2021).
These measures of epidemic over prevention seem to be necessary, because the goal of Chinese mainland’s epidemic prevention is to “clear to zero” at present. However, the goal has not been achieved. It has been nearly two years since the outbreak of the epidemic, and several waves of epidemic have still spread since this year. Since late October, confirmed cases have been found in Chinese mainland cities. From border towns to central cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Zhengzhou, Chengdu, Shijiazhuang, Harbin, Dalian. In Beijing, newly confirmed cases also occur one after another. From Changping, Haidian, Xicheng, Dongcheng to Chaoyang, Pinggu, Fengtai, Fangshan. For where the new cases are transmitted from, the early official saying was “imported from abroad”. However, it is increasingly recognized that there are “local cases”. Where did local cases come from? This shows that there are serious loopholes in the so-called current “clear to zero” measures that take extreme methods to restrict personal freedom, interfere with normal life and at the cost of the deterioration of other diseases. I have discussed this issue in several articles. This loophole is the administrative system itself on which this epidemic prevention model depends.
The administrative system seems to have many advantages. The biggest advantages are that it has a single goal, concentrated resources and rapid action, seemly easy to achieve the goal. However, its disadvantages are also obvious. The most important feature is that the administrative system depends on repeated contacts between people, and repeated contacts are an important form of virus transmission. Within the administrative system, people need to gather for meetings, arrange work and ask for instructions and reports; in the process of its operation, grass-roots administrators and their employees should deal with others repeatedly. In this way, the administrative system personnel themselves have a huge risk of infection, and they are required to perform nucleic acid detection, isolation and related tasks, which need to deal with the crowd repeatedly. This increases the transmission channels of the virus.
Under the institutional environment of Chinese mainland, the number of confirmed cases is greatly underestimated, and the number of confirmed cases of grassroots administrators may be hidden. This makes people confused about the channels of virus transmission. For example, in my community, a staff member of a neighborhood committee was detected as nucleic acid positive because he installed an epidemic prevention door magnet on the door of the diagnosed person’s house and did not wear protective clothing in a standardized manner. He came home and infected his brother. The rest of the neighborhood committee may have been infected by him. As a result, all members of the neighborhood committee were isolated as close contacts. A decorator in the same unit of the diagnosed person was also tested positive, but he sat with everyone in the van which pulled the residents of the unit out for isolation, and someone talked with him for about half an hour. Everyone was really nervous when they heard that he was positive. People didn’t rest assured until several nucleic acid tests were negative. A government worker in the town where the community belongs called me and said that she was isolated because she contacted an infected nucleic acid tester. It is also reported that four nucleic acid testers in Gansu were infected (Yilu Qianweizi, 2021).
The more serious problem is that this current clear-to-zero epidemic prevention model is costly. The biggest cost is to violate the Constitution and infringe on citizens’ rights without legal due process. Citizens’ constitutional rights are a kind of comprehensive basic rights and an institutional arrangement that condenses the success and failure of thousands of years, especially the experience and lessons of major disasters in modern China. If violated, it will not only damage other related derived rights, but also damage the interests of all aspects of citizens. These damaged aspects cannot be completely sorted out by reason.
First of all, human rights are necessary for people’s normal life. For example, personal freedom. After the residents of our unit were forced to be isolated in the hotel, they could only stay in a room of more than 20 square meters every day, even without “outdoor” time. People are not creatures that just eat and sleep. Normal life also includes outdoor sports, reading, writing, painting, listening to music and other activities at home. Although I strive to stay at home for isolation, my habit is to walk, run and ride in the park every day. Although I insist on indoor exercises during this isolation time, I still feel weak. According to the doctor, if you sit still for a long time (such as more than ten hours), it is easy to cause thrombosis. If people are kept indoors for a long time without sunshine, fresh air, pleasant scenery and happy mood, people’s body and mind will be damaged. Some studies have shown that the “mental health of isolated personnel has decreased significantly”. Because “the scope and degree of activities are limited, the sense of depression and bondage are increased, and the body and mind cannot be effectively adjusted, they are prone to somatic manifestations such as sleep disorders” and “the level of depression and stress is high” (Ma Kaixuan et al., 2020).
Second, human rights are necessary for people’s normal work, for obtaining income and supporting daily life. Isolation for 14 days, 21 days or even longer will force people to interrupt their normal work, so that people who rely on the market will immediately interrupt their daily income, people who rely on wage income may face the risk of unemployment, or make their institutions bear the financial burden, which may lead to loss or bankruptcy. Losing income, people face with financial difficulties, such as small business working capital, residential mortgage monthly payment, loan repayment, which will even lead to family financial bankruptcy. For example, Ruili has closed the city four times in a year, the tourism and emerald business has almost stagnated, and the business and service industry cannot operate for a long time. It is not simply that there is no cost of living at present, but that it has lost the means of making a living. Many people not only have no income in the past year, but also spent their previous accumulation (Li Pengliang, Zhou Shiling, 2021).
Third, human rights are the basic rights to deal with accidental injuries. For example, among the elderly tourists isolated in Ejina, there are many kinds of diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, depression, etc. when they were isolated for a long time, they ate up the medicine they took with them. Cutting off the medicine would lead to the deterioration of their condition and even life-threatening. Due to the restriction of personal freedom, they couldn’t go home for a long time and couldn’t continue to take medicine. Even if someone responded after seeing the news and provided their own medicine, it was delayed for some time and the quantity was limited (Zhang Yali, he Xiangyi, Zhang Meng, 2021). Other diseases, as the same as COVID-19, may harm health of people. At the cost of worsening other diseases and their harm to health and even life, to reduce the infection of COVID-19 with small probability reduces the welfare of people in general.
Fourth, human rights are the basic rights of normal social life. When a considerable number of citizens are suddenly isolated at home, not only their income is damaged, but also many socio-economic, political and cultural activities are suddenly interrupted. If they are suddenly isolated, teachers will interrupt teaching, doctors will interrupt treatment, security guards will interrupt safety services, and cleaners will interrupt urban cleaning services. When the social activities that should have been carried out are interrupted, not only the suppliers will lose their income, but also the demanders will suffer losses because their needs are not met, and the whole society will lose corresponding value and wealth. For example, Ruili is a prosperous border port town. Now it has been closed for a long time due to excessive epidemic prevention. The whole region has lost the function of border trade and tourism and has become a place unsuitable for normal life and work. It is said that from January to May 2021, Ruili’s tourism revenue decreased by 69% year-on-year (Xi Xiaodan, 2021); a large number of permanent residents outflow, from 500000 to 200000 (Serious Aunt, 2021).
Finally, generally speaking, it is a violation of human dignity. The above restrictions and reductions on citizens’ rights without normal reasons are violations of citizens’ dignity; without effective protection of rights, citizens have no dignity. Moreover, formally, the means and language of the administration are often arrogant and insulting. Its coercive practices, such as treating citizens as prisoners; their rude language and threatening attitude are intuitively sacrilegious actions; in the eyes of government officials, these citizens are treated as potential carriers of the virus. More narrowly, they are treated as the cost of their official career by administrative officials. As Kant said, human dignity comes from the will of people as legislators who follow the universal moral law as they are regarded as an end rather than a means. When their rights are violated as a means, their dignity disappears.
Of course, it is also possible to limit people’s basic rights as shortest as possible time for the practical effect of preventing virus infection. However, after fully explaining the necessity, it should be approved by the legislature. And in the implementation, the administrative authorities should not show off their restrictions on rights. However, in Chinese mainland, the administrative authorities did not follow such procedures when carrying out excessive epidemic prevention. They may not even think about the word of the “Constitution”. Outside the constitutional framework, the administrative authorities have made the extremely restrictions on people’s basic rights when administrative power is not constrained.
The first is the range of people to be isolated. We note that the definition of “close contact” has quietly changed. The original definition was “from 2 days before the symptoms of suspected cases and confirmed cases appear, or 2 days before the sampling of asymptomatic infected persons, those have close contact with them within 1 meter without effective protection.” Zhong Nanshan changed the definition to, “In the same space, in the same unit, in the same building, in the same construction, in the four days before the onset of the disease, those who get along with these patients are all close contacts.” (Agricultural Television Network, 2021) Mr. Zhong, as a rigorous expert, if there is no external pressure, it is inconceivable to modify the definition in this way. The so-called “one building, one construction” It is an extremely vague concept, and its size and distribution are very different. A huge building, such as the Great Hall of the People and a residential building with multiple closed apartment units, is also “one building”. If one wants to change the definition wider, there should also be a reasonable expansion of quantity, such as changing one meter to two meters. Not to mention adding “secondary close connection” and “secondary secondary close connection”.
At the other end, beyond the boundaries of science, an increase in the scope of “close contacts” is a violation of civil rights. The definition of concept in law is an important part of law, and the modification of concept definition is the modification of law. Amending the law is a serious process, which needs to go through due procedures of law and finally approved by the legislature. On the other hand, the administration revised the definition of “close contact” based on the words of an expert, which is the act of violating the law. According to Article 39 of the The Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Law, when “patients, pathogen carriers and close contacts of suspected patients” refuse isolation, compulsory measures can be taken. However, at the time of the establishment of the law, “close contacts” were contacts “within one meter” according to the original definition, and individual experts or administrative authorities had no power to modify them. Therefore, according to the tampered definition, it is illegal to describe people over one meter away from the patient as “close contacts”. And it is illegal to apply the relevant provisions of The Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Law, which is tantamount to tampering with the law.
What’s more, someone has created and invented the concept of “space-time companion”. It is absurd that there are people who have been there for more than 10 minutes within a radius of 800 meters around the place where the diagnosed person has been, or who have stayed for more than 30 hours in the place where the diagnosed patient has been within 14 days. The aforementioned green code of 80000 people in Chengdu suddenly turned into yellow code, which is such a “space-time companion” event. They are all regarded as the “space-time companion” of the infected people, causing a lot of inconvenience. This approach is more absurd than expanding the definition of “close contact”. This is 800 times the distance of 1 meter defined by the original “close contact”. Is there any rational basis? There seems to be no evidence that the virus on a patient can spread to another person over a distance of 800 meters. Is the virus imagination of the Chengdu authorities too boundless?
The administration is also arbitrarily extending the time of isolation. For example, the WHO said that the reasonable isolation time is 14 days, which is the incubation time obtained according to the statistics of a large number of cases. Now it has increased to 21 days in some places, and it might not lift the lockdown when the time comes. For example, our community was closed for 25 days without any explanation. For those who come back from foreign countries where there has been an epidemic, even if they have been isolated abroad for 14 days, they will continue to be isolated for 14 days at home. What is more serious is that epidemic prevention and isolation also means mutual distrust and blockade among regions. If a tourist has been isolated for 21 days due to the epidemic in Ejina, he needs to be isolated for another 14 days when he returns to his place of residence. This is even more unreasonable. It is obviously the result of investigating local governments according to the number of cases in administrative divisions, and local governments do not trust each other. This has no scientific basis
Why do local administrative departments tend to expand the concept of “close contacts”, expand the scope of isolators and prolong the isolation time until being absurd without scientific basis? This is related to the institutional environment in Chinese mainland. For epidemic prevention, the main goal is to clear the virus at the moment to zero, which mainly depends on the top-down administrative system. What promotes the action of administrative officials at all levels is to investigate the number of cases in their areas, and then use the removal of officials as a means to drive officials at all levels to excessive epidemic prevention. There is a problem with the goal. Because a society involves many factors related to the well-being of citizens, COVID-19 epidemic prevention is only one of many goals. It has a reasonable weight in the comprehensive goal. If it exceeds this weight, it is inappropriate. If we ignore the comprehensive social goals and only emphasize a single goal, we may over amplify the importance of this goal, relatively reduce the importance of other goals, or even reduce the importance of the latter by suppressing public opinion, which will produce improper views and actions in the society and the government, and realize this single goal at the cost of damaging the comprehensive social goals.
For local administrative officials, since the goal set by his superior is the single goal of epidemic prevention, and his career depends on whether he can achieve this goal. If not, his superior has absolute power to remove him from his post, his career will end, or even worse. Therefore, just to keep his official position, he should also realize the current “clearing to zero” task. If a suspected case is found, he should try his best to put it out. Because the comprehensive social goals are not within the scope of the assessment by the superior, and because there is no cost for the violation of civil rights due to epidemic prevention in the institutional environment of unrestricted power, when the superior pays attention to epidemic prevention, a COVID-19 case is more likely to be punished than ten death of other diseases are, therefore, a local official’s rational calculation is that he would rather violate the Constitution and infringe upon the civil rights, and would rather cause the loss of life, work and health, and also do not want to have a COVID-19 case, risk losing his official position.
In reality, the system works like this. There have been many negative examples. For example, due to several epidemic fluctuations in Ruili City, two secretaries of the CPC Municipal Committee have been removed from office within half a year (Qiu Kaimao, 2021); when the epidemic broke out in Ejina in October, Chen Zhanyun, Secretary of the CPC Ejina Committee, was immediately dismissed. In August, Fang Zhongyou, Secretary of the Nanjing Health Committee of the CPC, was dismissed due to the epidemic accident at Nanjing airport; The Secretary of the CPC District Committee in Hanjiang and Guangling districts of Yangzhou was dismissed because of poor epidemic prevention. It is reported that 70 ~ 80 local officials have been “held accountable” since the fight against the epidemic. In fact, this evaluation of officials with a single administrative goal is unfair to these officials; perhaps on the whole, they have made achievements. Yunnan Province proposed to Ruili to “ensure that it clears to zero quickly, not spread out and not rebound”. It did not mention the local needs of Ruili at all, as if it were an abandoned piece, which seemed very unbalanced.
Under the institutional environment of Chinese mainland, the subordinate officials are completely passive. Although the Civil Servant Law stipulates that civil servants have the right to appeal and accuse of improper punishment, in reality, it is almost impossible for sanctioned officials to exercise such rights. Especially in this nearly two-year epidemic prevention, the epidemic prevention task has been politicized. We have not seen any officials dare to appeal or sue their dismissal for a single administrative goal on the basis of constitutional principles. In fact, even in this case, the general judgment is that there is no possibility of success. In this institutional environment, officials are likely to be eliminated in reverse. Hayek once pointed out that an organizer should make full use of the knowledge of his subordinates, so as to form complementary knowledge. The simple removal of officials under the single goal of “epidemic prevention” is to remove those officials who use their own knowledge advantages to avoid problems not considered by their superiors; those who replace them are those who learn their “lessons” and simply implement the orders of their superiors regardless of their negative results.
In the practice of epidemic prevention, there are some extreme examples occasionally. For example, someone returns to positive a few days after the nucleic acid test is negative, which makes these officials worry that even if people’s nucleic acid test is negative, there can be no guarantee that no one will return to positive and infect others in the future. To be on the safe side, they have to isolate the “close contacts”, “secondary close contacts”, others in the “one building” and even the surrounding communities for 14 to 21 days even if they are negative after observation. In fact, even if the example of returning positive appears, the probability is very low. From a social point of view, if this happens, the degree of infection is also very low, and it is not worth mobilizing the public. The reason why these officials did so was that they had no concept of probability and could not distinguish between 1 / 10 possibility and 1 / 100000 possibility; Secondly, even if they have the concept of probability, because the occurrence of a small epidemic with little probability will affect their official position, they should multiply the very low probability by a large safety factor; moreover, their excessive epidemic prevention measures are for the “upper” to see, which is a “statement” or even a “flattering” action; finally, because in Chinese mainland, power is not bound by the Constitution and laws. So these officials need not pay the cost of taking measures that harm civil rights and social interests, so they would rather harm others to protect themselves.
In the specific implementation, a lot of funds are needed to mobilize social resources. In theory, the funds come from government finance. Because the financial funds are public and used for epidemic prevention, they seem not to be criticized and restricted in this special period. Therefore, especially for rich areas, the problem of funds is not an obstacle to limiting the expansion of epidemic prevention scope of local governments, and they even spend a lot of money. For there is a minor epidemic in Shanghai Disneyland, all tourists in the park the next day not only were tested nucleic acid exaggeratedly, but also stopped the subway and mobilized 210 buses to transport tourists back to the city, which is a waste. If you think these passengers would “infect” the subway, you could disinfect it later. In Beijing, taking our community as an example, because two cases were confirmed in one unit of a building, the residents of the whole North Community and the South Community (separated by a road) have been isolated for 25 days, which is far beyond the boundless definition of “close contact”, and two “big white” guards are sent at the door of each unit. When Beijing and other cities pull residents out of “centralized isolation”, the cost is paid by the government. Of course, citizens pay in the end. This is their tax money.
In less affluent areas, such as Ruili and Ejina, the government requires residents or tourists to pay out of their own pocket. For example, in Ruili, residents or outsiders who want to leave Ruili need to be isolated for 14 days at their own expense. For local residents and outsiders who have been impoverished due to the closure of the city, it is obviously worse to charge isolation fees. Even those who do not participate in nucleic acid testing will be forced to isolate at their own expense for 21 days (Ruili COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control command headquarters, 2021). This is amazing. Because if people are free to choose between nucleic acid detection and isolation at their own expense for 21 days, rational people will choose the former. In Ejina, tourists were forced to be isolated at their own expense, and the time was prolonged again and again. Later, they were still isolated for 14 days when they were transferred to other areas. What’s more, when Li Zhuang, a legal expert, made a professional criticism of “self-funded isolation” on the Internet, local police came to “admonish” him. Li Zhuang made it clear in his article “Answer netizens on ‘isolation fees'” (2021) that mandatory isolation fees cannot be charged. In addition, allowing residents or tourists to “isolate at their own expense” is transferring the financial burden. In addition to encroaching on the interests of isolated citizens, it also aims to reduce the financial burden of the local government, so as to make it easier for them to decide on compulsory isolation and expand its scope and time.
When these local governments take excessive epidemic prevention measures, due to their inappropriateness and coercion, they will inevitably lead to the disgust of some citizens. Because their power is not constrained, these local governments will further take measures to violate citizens’ rights and dignity and force citizens to submit. For example, in the incident that Xi’an high-speed railway station forced Beijing and Zhengzhou passengers to go to the underground parking lot and return the same way of their coming, the local government dispatched some “big whites” to enforce coercion on passengers; In Cangzhou rural areas, local governments force the elderly to be vaccinated. If they are unwilling to be vaccinated, they were threatened to stop pension insurance and seed fertilizer subsidies. In some local kindergartens, teachers put psychological pressure on unvaccinated children by treating them differently, forcing their parents to agree to vaccinate them. Most intuitively, the “epidemic prevention personnel” sent by the government have a rough and bad attitude. When residents refuse the mandatory measures they require, they take the means of harassment for many times, and even deliberately call at night to destroy residents’ sleep. Their more frequent mantra is “if you don’t…, I’ll call the police.” this is called “illegal threat”. As mentioned earlier, it is illegal to modify the definition of “close contact” without due process of law. Therefore, when the administrative authorities use the police against ordinary residents, they are violating residents’ rights.
The above problems are still under the assumption of the most goodwill to the local government. Not surprisingly, when local governments can restrict and invade civil rights in the name of “epidemic prevention”, some people with bad conduct among civil servants and their “epidemic prevention personnel” take the opportunity to infringe on citizens’ personal, residential and property, resulting in a lot of losses and social panic. For example, Shangrao City illegally pried open a resident’s house after the residents were “centrally isolated” and went in to “kill” the resident’s dog (Hertz, 2021). When some lawyers went to other places to carry out legal business, in order to prevent them from defending their clients, the local government took advantage of the convenience of manipulating the health code or travel code to turn their health code red or yellow. In fact, their own nucleic acid tests were negative, for they had not been to medium and high-risk areas. Chen Hongguo, a legal scholar, returned to Xi’an from Yuncheng, a low-risk area. When he showed his travel code, he found that it turned yellow. It showed that he had been to the Philippines within 14 days, but he had never been there at all (Chen Hongguo, 2021). Wafangdian City in Dalian even stipulates that those who do not participate in nucleic acid testing twice will become yellow code and three times will become red code. On the whole, health codes and travel codes have been maliciously used by some local governments and have become tools for systematically violating citizens’ personal freedom rights; In turn, it disintegrated the authority and scientificity of the two codes and seriously damaged the epidemic prevention system.
When local governments infringe on citizens’ rights under the banner of “epidemic prevention”, resulting in a significant decline in citizens’ quality of life, interruption of medical treatment, serious impact on citizens’ health, or the occurrence of vicious accidents that infringe on citizens’ housing and property rights, resulting in victims’ complaints and public condemnation, these local governments further infringe on citizens’ right to freedom of expression, use violence to suppress the exposure of accidents and criticism of their practices. For example, in the above “admonition” to Li Zhuang; the owner of the dog “slaughtered” in Shangrao was threatened to delete the microblog after sending the message, and some articles criticizing the Shangrao government on the Internet were also deleted. Later, the local government declared that it “got the understanding of the dog owner” (Hertz, 2021). There are also articles that complain that the health code and travel code have been changed by malicious operation, which have also been deleted. Ruili’s residents who complained in the deteriorating living environment were illegally detained by the local government (serious aunt, 2021). This only shows that things are more serious than the information we have access to, and a large number of problems have been suppressed and not exposed.
In short, the existing Chinese mainland’s epidemic prevention model has serious defects, and the single goal of epidemic prevention is not yet achieved. Both the loss of civil rights and the cost of social interests are very huge. It must be corrected and adjusted. The most important way is to put epidemic prevention under the constitutional framework. Constitutional principles are a concise summary of the successes and failures of historical development, and a great wisdom; The single administrative goal is narrow and short-term, which often conflicts with the comprehensive social goals represented by the constitutional principles and citizens’ constitutional rights, and is far less than the constitutional principles. Adhering to the constitutional principles and putting epidemic prevention within the constitutional framework requires governments at all levels to take the Constitution as the highest principle, so that in epidemic prevention, they will not highlight a single goal and harm other rights and interests of citizens, give consideration to a single goal and comprehensive social goals, and will not do things that harm civil freedom, property, health and life.
To put epidemic prevention under the constitutional framework, we must correct those things that have violated the constitution. First of all, it is necessary to restrict the administrative departments from arbitrarily changing the quarantine and other epidemic prevention rules and standards. For example, the definition of “close contact” must be determined by a neutral expert group and voted by the legislature before it can be determined or modified; the time standard for isolation of “close contacts” or other epidemic prevention measures shall also be so determined or modified; the creation and use of the concept of “space-time companion” should also go through such due process of law, and cannot be arbitrarily established by officials of administrative departments. If it has been established or changed, it shall be revoked and implemented in accordance with the previous standards before there is no new standard. In fact, the concept of “close contact” should return to the original concept with scientific basis, and the concept of “space-time companion” should be abolished. Those who violate citizens’ rights, injure citizens’ personal freedom and damage citizens’ property in the name of “epidemic prevention” shall be punished in accordance with normal legal provisions.
For example, government administrative departments and their responsible persons who arbitrarily expand epidemic prevention measures to restrict citizens’ personal freedom beyond the provisions of the Infectious Disease Prevention Law shall be given administrative sanctions, and those involved in criminal crimes shall be prosecuted to the court. For the “epidemic prevention personnel” who broke into residents’ homes and killed their pet dogs in Shangrao, they should be prosecuted according to the crimes of violating houses and property, and the leaders behind them should also be punished accordingly. Those who abuse police power to suppress the normal reflection of excessive epidemic prevention mistakes and the difficulties they create should be stopped and punished. Administrative officials who use the opportunity of epidemic prevention to invade the epidemic database and tamper with data for other purposes shall be prosecuted and punished for the crime of undermining data security and disintegrating epidemic prevention data system.
Under the constitutional framework, epidemic prevention, of course, should limit the means space of the current government; However, while eliminating a large number of the consequences of the violations of the people’s rights, it did not greatly curb epidemic prevention. Moreover, the success of epidemic prevention depends not on brute force, but on wisdom. In order to better prevent epidemic disease within the framework of the constitution, we must know COVID-19 more scientifically. In addition to devotes to developing vaccines and medicine, it is more important to have a deep understanding of its infectious characteristics and provide a basis for social means of epidemic prevention. First, we should change Chinese mainland’s “current clearing to zero” mode to “gradually clearing up”. The goal of “epidemic prevention” will be set down to reduce the basic reproduction number to below one (Sheng Hong, 2020). This means that if the basic reproduction number is reduced to less than one, the number of infected people will gradually decline and finally return to zero. This is a very common truth. We are worried about endangered animals today. The main reason is that if the population size is smaller than a critical point, the success rate of male and female pairing will be reduced, and the reproductive rate will be reduced below one, that is, each adult animal cannot produce one offspring, so it will go to the extinction of the population. The reason for viruses is the same.
Figure 1 Assumes that the basic reproduction number of Wuhan City closure day starts to be 0.94
Note: the ordinate represents the number of infected people, and the abscissa represents the time. The time unit is a day. There are 365 days here.
Source: Sheng Hong, “The appropriate goal to fight against COVID-19 is to reduce the basic reproduction number below 1”, Professor Sheng Hong, April 23, 2020.
My rough research last year suggested that if we reduce unnecessary contacts, wear masks, maintain social distance, and virtual transactions and services, the basic reproduction number of in Chinese mainland can be reduced to below 1. It is estimated that regardless of whether vaccination prevents infection, only the original cautious definition is adopted to isolate the “close contacts” for 14 days, which can further significantly reduce the basic reproduction number, which means that the number of infected people decreases faster. The goal of gradually clearing zero can be achieved. As for the isolation without strict time limit under the definition of great expansion, it is obviously unnecessary and a huge waste. Strictly speaking, this waste shows that the social cost of epidemic prevention is much greater than the social benefit. How to judge the social cost and social benefit of epidemic prevention?
The COVID-19 would make people dead. Although human life is priceless, life is composed of time. Lu Xun’s saying that “Time is life, and wasting other people’s time for no reason is actually tantamount to murder for money” has literary color, but it also opens up the relationship between overall life and part of time. Therefore, we can learn from insurance, and we can make estimation reluctantly. We can learn from the method of life insurance, regard the total number and time of people whose personal freedom is restricted in one isolation as the social cost of isolation, and regard the death of COVID-19 reduced by this isolation as the social benefit of isolation, and compare the two. We can have the following formula, which specifies the upper limit of isolation:
Social cost: Number of people isolated × Days ≤
Social benefit: Reduce the number of infections due to isolation × Mortality × (reduced life expectancy of COVID-19 death) × 365 days
Here, according to a research team at the University of Glasgow, we assume that the “reduced life expectancy of COVID-19 death” is 11 years (Upstream News, 2020). The meaning of this formula is that, theoretically, isolation measures for close contacts should be based on the point that the upper limit of the cost (days) caused by isolation measures should be the benefit (days) of preventing infection and saving lives. If the former is greater than the latter, the cost of epidemic prevention is too high.
For example, according to an observation and study of 2593 close contacts in Guangzhou, 127 close contacts (within one meter) were infected, about 4.9%; 88.98% of them are family members who get along day and night. Assuming that these close contacts are not isolated, assuming that they infect family members or others with the same probability, assuming each family has 3 members, each close contact may infect 0.87 family members, all infected close contacts will infect 110 family members, and 14 people outside the family, a total of 124 people. The case fatality rate at that time was 4.5%, that is, about 6 people might be in danger; if they didn’t get COVID-19, they still have 11 years of life expectancy, 4015 days, which multiply by 6, we get 24090 days; 2593 close contacts were isolated for 14 days, it is together 36302 days, higher than 24090 days, i.e.
36302 days > 24090 days
The social cost of isolation is slightly higher than the social benefit of isolation, which shows that the measure of isolating all close contacts for 14 days is somewhat excessive, but it is basically acceptable.
For another example, two confirmed cases (a couple) in our community infected two people. The administrative authorities isolated about 2000 people in the whole community as “close contacts” for 25 days. According to 2000 people, the probability of infection of “close contacts” is 0.01%. Assuming that the 2000 people are not isolated, the infected people will infect others according to the same infection probability, and then infect two more people. Multiplied by the case fatality rate of 4.5%, 0.09 people may die. Multiplied by the remaining life expectancy of 11 years, it is converted into days, about 361 days. And 2000 people multiplied by 25 days is 50000 days. Much more than 361 days. Namely:
50000 days > > > > 361 days
The cost of isolation (days) is much greater than the life loss reduced by isolation (days), which is about 139 times that of the latter. This is because the scope and time of isolation have been improperly expanded. Therefore, this isolation measure is very unworthy. If according to the original definition of “close contact” (within one meter) range (about 10 people) and the 14 day isolation period recognized by WHO, the isolation cost is 140 days, which is less than 361 days.
Changing the definition of “close contacts” from “within one meter” to “one building” or even a community, one person gets sick and 2000 people are isolated. The administrative authorities believe that each of the 2000 “close contacts” with the expanded definition may be infected with the virus and have no ability to identify the infected. However, there are many ideas, methods and technologies that can identify infected people without isolating 2000 people. For example, according to the previous study on close contacts in Guangzhou, the infection probability of close contacts (within one meter) is 4.9%, of which 89% are family members, so the infection probability of close contacts who are not family members is only 0.5%, and they are distributed in vehicles, workplaces, entertainment places and medical institutions, and then the close contacts in these places (within one meter) are detected (without isolation), Then we can find out the 0.5% infected people (isolation). Even if there are very few “missed” infected people, it is very small. Thus, the effect of this method is basically the same as that of isolating the whole community indiscriminately. Even if there is a difference, it will be too small to be significant; it may even be better, because it reduces the chance of mutual infection between administrative, medical personnel and quarantined people caused by the administrative department’s forcibly “organizing” isolation and repeated detection of nucleic acid.
Of course, the above two examples are only rough demonstrations. Careful research should be able to write an academic paper. The parameters cited above are not accurate enough, mostly small sample data. In order to make the research accurate and reliable, it is necessary to obtain more accurate parameters. Through the analysis of big data, we should obtain the basic reproduction number of virus, the length of incubation period, the maximum distance and probability of direct infection, the probability of direct contact infection, the maximum interval and probability of nucleic acid negative and re-positive, the efficiency of vaccine and the efficiency of medical treatment. In particular, we can also observe and study people’s epidemic prevention behavior, such as the effects of wearing masks, washing hands and social distance, so as to make more accurate judgment and find a better epidemic prevention behavior model. The administrative department can formulate an isolation policy that takes into account of the epidemic prevention and social comprehensive objectives, and with the change of parameters, such as the reduction of mortality.
The concept of probability is important if the above epidemic prevention measures and their adjustments are to be implemented. Anyone who has read a bachelor’s degree should have studied probability theory. For the basic reproduction number, infection probability, serious disease rate, case fatality rate, infection probability of close contacts, infection probability of secondary close contacts, return-positive probability of cured patients, etc., there should be statistical probability based on big data, and epidemic prevention measures should be taken according to the proportionality principle referred probability. The so-called “proportionality principle” is to take corresponding measures according to the severity of the nature of the disease and the probability of occurrence, rather than taking upper limit (or no upper limit) measures regardless of the severity and probability. With the concept of probability, the proportionality principle can be used accordingly. This is what a rational society should do, and it is also very common in our society. We will not ban flights because there have been plane crashes. Nor will the highway be closed down because of accidents on the high speed road. According to statistics, the number of Chinese mainland deaths due to road traffic accidents is around 60 thousand per year. People who live hundreds of meters around patients are often isolated for 25 days. This shows those who made decision do not understand the nature of probability and the proportionality principle.
Confucius said, “Propriety is the foundation of public governance.” here, “propriety” refers to the non-mandatory rules of society, which means that public governance should be based on non-mandatory rules. I explained this sentence as, “Although Confucianism knows that the government has the power to use coercive force, all the efforts of Confucianism are to minimize the use of coercive force in public governance.” In a society, non-coercive rules are superior to and prior to coercive rules. In Chinese mainland, the local government seems to think of coercive power first, which is particularly evident in this epidemic. The abuse of coercive force is not only “inhumane”, but also “unwise”. It is because in the fuzzy zone between compulsion and non-compulsion, it is necessary to use wisdom to explore wise measures that take into account the comprehensive objectives of epidemic prevention and society with a kind mind. Officials who frequently use coercive means are not only not loving the people, but also likely to be stupid, because they can think of it without thinking. Therefore, “Scientific epidemic prevention under the framework of the Constitution” is the due meaning of the issue.
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