Carl Setzer went to Shanghai on a business trip. He ended up learning about Covid lockdowns, which are increasing again in China. "Sixteen years, come and gone."
Words of gratitude for Carl Setzer's willingness to share his experience pale before the intensity of one man's living nightmare within a health care context that many of us can recognize in one sense or another. On top of that, it would seem that he was *never* symptomatic during his confinement. Thank you for making it possible, Jim.
Beyond that, and out of curiosity, I found a podcast interview of Carl Setzer from April 2020 (see below) that offers a sharp contrast between the absolute exasperation brought on by his involuntary confinement (I'm avoiding the "q" word for reasons he will recognize) and a clearheaded appreciation for the opportunity that his choice to live and work in China presented once the initial serendipity of craft beer brewing became something larger. At the very least, I hope that Carl and his wife have been able to maintain their leadership in their enterprise and that they will one day be able to return confidently to see the fruits of their labor...
... but more importantly, I dearly hope that conditions will evolve in China to allow this as its leadership and its people respond to the alternatives made tragically obvious in the wake of current events and the broader challenges we all face as citizens as well as earth's inhabitants. Changes in China since the "brighter" period from 2004-2013 that Carl references (and that you have documented) are discouraging, and I can sympathize with Carl's personal decision to never return because I have a relative who came to the same conclusion after having invested years in the study of Mandarin and Chinese culture followed by a few years "in country" during which he did not find the experience fulfilling or enjoyable.
Sorry for the wishful thinking, Jim, but I also just read Orville Schell's moving confirmation that there are "American institutions that work" in a context that contrasts Carl Setzer's unpleasant pandemic-induced travail (link included below if perhaps unnecessarily so... and thank you for that, too!). One can only hope that we can *all* do better at cultivating our "better angels" in the weeks and months and years to come...
Great report and I'm very glad Mr. Setzer is out and healthy, and I think anyone can understand his decision to never go back to China. Those of us in the "hey, China isn't so bad!" camp -- especially those of us who've spent a few years there -- can, I think, recognize that this particular situation brought out the very worst in the Chinese character, especially as it relates to interactions with "foreigners" (a distinction that is made very clearly and definitively by all Chinese). First off, the hospital/dormitory where he was held, though not too far from Shanghai, is really in the outer suburbs, very far from the sophisticated city folk of Shanghai itself. I'm not surprised that the level of English was pretty low if non-existent in an area like that (unlike in Shanghai itself where you'll find the young people in particular, know a fair amount of English even if they haven't had much practice), and I'd also bet the doctors and nurses (who may have had some big-city education) and especially the administrators (who probably haven't had big-city education) there have rarely encountered "foreigners" before. On top of that, you have those doctors/nurses/administrators suddenly dragged into the front lines of a battle with a virus with a lot of politics attached to it -- with origins in China (not terribly far, by Chinese standards, from this area -- let's say a 1.5 hour plane flight, a four hour bullet train ride, a 10 hour normal train ride to Wuhan, by my guess), fast spreading around the world and causing havoc. So I'm just saying that lurking behind this story, and surely putting pressure on all the Chinese Mr. Setzer encountered in this mess, is a government saying: China isn't necessarily the cause of this; but yes, it's a big health crisis; and yes, it has spread to "foreigners"; and we will show how professional we are in dealing with it; and just how technological we can be with our "tests". I'm using a lot of words to say: it's easy for me to imagine the Chinese described here were under a lot of pressure themselves to both play this whole thing down, but also be professional. And they probably had a lot of anxiety about dealing with "foreigners" to this extent, for the first time in their lives. I suspect a diary from one of the nurses in this situation would also be fascinating. Anyway, Mr. Setzer, after obviously seeing the best of China for many years and contributing to it himself in an impressive way, got smacked in the face with the worst of China. I feel for him and I'm glad he's back with his loved ones.
An emotionally moving and chillingly informative series of posts. One bright spot for me was the Pt. 4 conversation in which the migrant worker spoke of happiness abroad vs. shame at home, and the college student of the freedom he felt in America. The constant repression may dampen but can’t extinguish the human spirit.
All my best to Carl Setzer after that terrible month. I hope he has a great life from now on.