As other countries in the world learn to live with Covid-19, China’s top leader Xi Jinping wants his country to continue striving to live without it, regardless of cost. increase.
China has won the fight against the first outbreak in Wuhan, Mr Xi said last week, and he added, “We will definitely win the fight to protect Shanghai.”
However, there is increasing pressure to change to a zero-corona strategy that has stagnated Shanghai since March, blocked hundreds of millions of Chinese people nationwide, and now threatens to suspend Beijing...
This week, the World Health Organization called China’s current pandemic strategy “unsustainable.”economist wrap up It is a multinational company that has grown as “Zero Movement, Zero GDP” Be vigilant For further investment in the country.
For more than two years, China has kept the number of Covids enviably low by enthusiastically responding to the signs of occurrence in testing and snap lockdown. This success allowed the Communist Party to boast that life was prioritized over death in the pandemic, unlike Western democracy, where the death toll from the virus surged.
More contagious varieties like Omicron can undermine its success and pose a dilemma for Mr. Xi and the Chinese Communist Party. Tighter blockages have been imposed to prevent the spread of the infection, curbing economic activity and threatening millions of jobs. Chinese citizens have become restless and forced to stay home or move to strict government-run isolation facilities.
However, abandoning this strategy risks a surge in deaths, especially among the tens of millions of unvaccinated elderly people in the country. This week’s researchers warned of a “tsunami” of death if the virus surged uncontrolled, overwhelming China’s fragile national hospital system and increasing the likelihood of social unrest.
Afraid of objections during Political year For Xi, Chinese censors have swiftly moved to dispel the call for a diversion of Covid-19.Head of World Health Organization, the recommendation is China Once held up as a modelSilenced this week when he called on the country to rethink its strategy.
Photos and references to WHO Secretary Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus were immediately removed from the Chinese internet after the statement. The Foreign Ministry called Mr. Tedros “irresponsible” and accused WHO of “not understanding the facts correctly.”
China’s state media has also criticized the rigorous measures taken by the authorities to deal with the outbreak. This week, state media said the city slowly returned to normal as some Shanghai authorities built new fences around the quarantine zone, boarded more homes and asked residents not to leave their apartments. I drew a picture of the apartment.
One article explained that the “urban hustle and bustle” was back, while another focused on statistics on the number of stores reopened.
But rosy state media coverage cannot hide the looming challenges facing Mr. Xi.
According to official statistics, the coronavirus has killed 569 people and has infected 777,565 people since March 1. If unchecked, the outbreak could lead to 112 million infections and about 1.6 million deaths between now and July, according to studies by researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai and Indiana University in the United States. there is.
“The situation is quite harsh, and this study clearly shows that vaccination and support for the elderly is very important,” said the infectious disease modeler at Indiana University’s School of Public Health, who contributed to the study. Marco Ageri says.
According to a survey, less than half of people over the age of 70 in Shanghai receive two jabs. Throughout China, that number is 72%, and health professionals say more than 95%. In dozens of cities where outbreaks or partial blockades were made in anticipation of an increase in cases, resources have been devoted to eradicating the virus rather than vaccination.
Currently, vaccines available in China are not as powerful as foreign vaccines available in other countries. Chinese vaccines use traditional techniques that have been shown to be less effective than breakthrough mRNA techniques. China said last year that it was approaching approval for BioNTech, a German mRNA shot made in partnership with Pfizer. Not happening.. Several Chinese companies are in the testing phase of homemade mRNA options, and China recently approved the emergency use of Pfizer’s Covid-19 antiviral drug called Paxlovid.
By using antiviral therapy and providing more effective vaccines, three vaccinations could help China find a way out of the Zero-COVID policy, Ageri said.
Investors and business leaders are concerned that China’s adherence to the Zero-COVID policy could lead to a free fall in the economy. “It’s time for the government to change its strategy,” said Fred Fu, a prominent Chinese investor. He added that the benefits of the Zero-COVID policy no longer outweigh the economic costs. “Standing on the Zero-COVID strategy will undermine its economy and undermine public confidence.”
To One quoteAbout 400 million people in 45 cities were somehow blocked in China last month, bringing GDP to $ 7.2 trillion annually. Economists are concerned that the blockade will have a significant impact on growth. One economist has warned that China could fall into recession if the blockade continues for another month.
China’s latest information: important things to know
Uncertain harvest. Chinese officials said after a heavy rain last fall Unfortunately winter wheat harvest In June, food prices that were already high due to the war in Ukraine and bad weather in Asia and the United States could rise further, exacerbating hunger in the world’s poorest countries.
Western multinationals say they are discussing ways to shift some of their businesses from China. Large companies that are increasingly dependent on China’s consumer market for growth are also warning. Apple said the blockade could hurt sales by $ 4 to $ 8 billion.
Howard Schultz, Starbucks’ interim chief executive officer, said the company “has virtually no ability to predict performance in China.”
Some projects have been put on hold for more than two years, as foreign investment is almost exhausted and pandemic regulations make it essentially impossible for foreign executives to visit China. When executives of multinational corporations appeal to senior Chinese officials, their call is full of silence, said Michael Hart, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China.
“China was very solid in the view that it had the right strategy and people didn’t want to criticize it,” Hart said.
Some of China’s top leaders are also beginning to share concerns about the economy. China’s prime minister, Li Keqiang, described the employment situation as migrant workers and college students as “complex and serious.” Hard to find I will continue to work during the blockade.
Daily virus cases in Shanghai are steadily declining, but authorities have recently stepped up measures following last week’s call for doubling Mr. Xi. Authorities also began forcing the entire home into government quarantine if only one resident tested positive.
The new measures are stricter than the initial pandemic measures, Anxiety pocketPreviously, it was rare in China, where citizens were primarily supportive of the country’s pandemic policy.
In one video that was widely disseminated online before being withdrawn by censors, an indignant woman shouts when an employee in white hazmat suit breaks a door and takes her to a quarantine facility. She protests and asks them to give evidence that she has tested her positive. After all, she picks up her phone to call the police.
“If you call the police, I’m still the one to come,” replies one of the men.
Isabelle Qian Contributed reports, and Claire Fu Contributed to the research.