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The pitfalls of China’s zero covid policy – World Today

Residents at their windows, banging on pots to express their exasperation with the confinement imposed on them. Men dressed in white coveralls, smashing the doors of residents reluctant to open them, for fear of being parked far from their homes, parents even being separated from children. Workers trying to flee their factory where they are forcibly detained.

Harsh regime in Shanghai… before Beijing

These images of Shanghai have gone around the world, despite the censorship which, in China, is also exercised on social networks. Its 26 million inhabitants are not, however, the only ones to suffer from this harsh confinement regime. It already concerns a dozen other cities in the country. And it could soon be Beijing’s turn. Systematic screening and isolation measures for all identified cases and all contact cases are already imposed there. The capital thus lives as if in slow motion: low traffic and number of closed stores. On the other hand, the police track those who are suspected of spreading rumors… of confinement.

The zero covid policy, applied in China, is not only brutal, it is starting to arouse doubt and even concern. “We don’t know how far the constraints imposed on us can go, nor when all this will stop”, testifies a Quebec national. “Even if they trust the government, the vast majority of them find it difficult to understand the logic of these devices,” notes a Frenchman living in Beijing.

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Xi Jinping not ready to see zero covid again

Everything indicates, however, that President Xi Jinping, the main organizer of this zero covid strategy, has no intention of giving it up. To the point of making it an indicator of his own power over the country, which he wants to establish as the first economic power in the world. Admittedly, in 2020, this policy, by demonstrating an impressive capacity for mobilization, like this hospital built in a few days in Wuhan, enabled China to overcome the first wave and revive its economy, before the big western nations.

In doing so, she almost made people forget her own responsibility for the emergence of the virus. Since then, most other governments have prioritized vaccination and consider the lower lethality of the Omicron variant. China maintains its line. A positive case and it’s a whole building, if not a neighborhood, put in isolation. Populations are taken to centers where supplies and even hygiene often prove to be defective. The kiosks, installed every 500 meters, are generalized, in order to test more efficiently.

The WHO condemns, the virus starts again

The head of the WHO (World Health Organization) challenged the effectiveness of this method, calling it “illusory”. Which the Chinese don’t know, of course. And yet, despite the unverifiable official figures, it seems that this new epidemic wave continues to spread. By paralyzing Shanghai, the authorities penalized a population which has the reputation of being less submissive and whose dynamism is envied. But it also shut down the economic lung of the country.

The slowdown in port traffic is added to that of the factories to which the personnel cannot access. The key automotive sector is at half mast, while the real estate crisis is still not under control. Another sign, while China had taken drastic measures to maintain the organization of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, it has just given up the Asian Football Cup, scheduled for 2023. This follows the cancellation several other sporting events scheduled for the coming months. China, however, sets great store by its international image.

Moreover, the difficulties accumulate for those who want to come to China as well as for those who want to leave. Many young Chinese are therefore forced to interrupt their studies abroad.

Will covid impact the party congress?

By imposing his iron fist on the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and its 95 million members, Xi Jinping has given himself the means to decide alone on the conduct of the country. What the Chinese accept if it guarantees them prosperity, power and if they feel protected. The 20th CPC Congress next fall was supposed to be a formality. The impact of covid can change this situation.

letelegramme Fr Trans

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