Chen-ou Liu's Translation Project: First English-Chinese Haiku and Tanka Blog

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Blank Sheets of Paper Haiku

Three Hundred and Fifty-Third Entry, Coronavirus Poetry Diary
in memory of Patrick Henry who was known for his 1775 revolutionary war cry: Give me liberty or give me death

Covid curbs
blank sheets of paper waving
in the twilight dark

FYI: The Week Magazine, December 3, 2022: Patrick Henry in China

"Give me liberty or give me death." Protesters in cities throughout China were actually chanting Patrick Henry's revolutionary war cry from 1775 this week, as tens of thousands poured into the streets in defiance of the authoritarian regime in Beijing. The demonstrators, mostly young, chanted "We don't want emperors!" and held up blank pieces of paper to symbolize their inability to speak freely.

And for more about understatement, see my "To the Lighthouse" post, A Rhetorical Device, Understatement

Added: Three Hundred and Fifty-Fourth Entry

new Covid rules ...
a steely glint in the eyes
of the Premier

FYI: BBC News, Dec.5 : China Covid: Xi's face-saving exit from his signature policy

...look at what the government does rather than what it says.

Take Beijing for example. There has not been a significant drop in infections, yet public transport now no longer requires a PCR test result, bars and restaurants are slowly re-opening...

The new plan appears to be to slow the spread of the virus, hopefully enabling the health system to cope, rather than trying crush the disease.

Added: Three Hundred and Fifty-Fifth Entry

The Moon Is Bigger and Rounder Abroad

into the TV camera
the official
announces new Covid rules...
these ifs, buts, and maybes

masked women 
with oversized hoods
hold blank sheets
of heart-shaped red paper ...
Chinese Embassy in twilight

another protester
grabbed from a Beijing street
by the police
put into a crowded jail 
while Covid curbs are loosened ...  

NeverEnding Story, December 7 2022

FYI: The Atlantic, Health, Dec. 6: China’s COVID Wave Is Coming: The world’s most populous nation is being forced onto a zero-COVID off-ramp.

... China represents, in many ways, SARS-CoV-2’s final frontier. With its under-vaccinated residents and sparse infection history, the nation harbors “a more susceptible population than really any other large population I can think of,” says Sarah Cobey, an computational epidemiologist at the University of Chicago. Soon, SARS-CoV-2 will infiltrate that group of hosts so thoroughly that it will be nearly impossible to purge again. “Eventually, just like everyone else on Earth, everyone in China should expect to be infected,” says Michael Worobey, an evolutionary virologist at the University of Arizona.

What Hong Kong endured earlier this year may hint at what’s ahead. “They had a really, really bad wave,” Kayoko Shioda, an epidemiologist at Emory University, told me—far dwarfing the four that the city had battled previously. Researchers have estimated that nearly half the city’s population—more than 3 million people—ended up catching the virus. More than 9,000 residents died.

Lackluster vaccination isn’t China’s only issue. The country has accumulated almost no infection-induced immunity that might otherwise have updated people’s bodies on recent coronavirus strains. The country’s health-care system is also ill-equipped to handle a surge in demand

Next month’s Lunar New Year celebration, too, could spark further spread. And as the weather cools and restrictions relax, other respiratory viruses, such as RSV and flu, could drive epidemics of their own.

A major COVID outbreak in China would also have unpredictable effects on the virus. The world’s most populous country includes a large number of immunocompromised people, who can harbor the virus for months—chronic infections that are thought to have produced variants of concern before. The world may be about to witness “a billion or more opportunities for the virus to evolve,” Cowling told me. 

Note: For more about the use of irony, see "To the Lighthouse: A Rhetorical Device, Irony"