Is China’s zero-Covid strategy a threat to the global economy?

More than two years after the first cases were discovered in Wuhan, China is battling the “worst Covid-19 outbreak” it has experienced since the pandemic began, Jessie Yeung said CNN (New York).

Fueled by the Omicron variant, cases have surged to over 5,000 a day. This number is small compared to case numbers in other countries; but it’s “alarmingly high” for a nation that has stuck to a “strict zero-Covid policy” throughout the pandemic. And Beijing has responded in typically drastic style: as of last week, around 37 million people were in lockdown, with strict rules in place in five cities, including the main manufacturing hub of Shenzhen.

China is “particularly vulnerable” to omicron, Lily Kuo said in The Washington Post. True, most of its population is double stung. But Chinese vaccines are much less effective than mRNA shots like Pfizer’s, and some 50 million over-60s are still not fully vaccinated – leaving Beijing in a bind.

According to the Chinese state-run newspaper People’s Daily (Beijing), our measures are once again proving to be “effective and efficient”. Daily cases and deaths are extraordinarily low compared to our 1.4 billion population. And by acting swiftly against outbreaks, we’ve maintained our “economic vitality”: witnessed the 8.1% growth rate over the past year, the highest in China in nearly a decade.

What Beijing isn’t saying is that it had to act quickly, as any further surge in cases risks overwhelming its “huge but patchy hospital network,” it said Bloomberg (New York). Hampered by “unilateral distribution of resources and underinvestment,” the healthcare system could not cope if the virus spread like it did in other countries.

China’s containment strategy could pose serious problems for the global economy, CK Tan and Pak Yiu said in Nike Asia (Tokyo). The cities of Dongguan and Shenzhen, which went into lockdown last week, are home to huge factories that make Apple’s iPhones; in the city of Changchun, Volkswagen and Toyota had to shut down assembly plants. Although some were able to resume operations after just a few days, there are fears that Shanghai – China’s wealthiest and most populous city – could yet remain under lockdown.

The dire situation here in Hong Kong, where the number of deaths is skyrocketing, offers Beijing a lesson, Lee Jersey Wang said South China tomorrow post. Our resources were focused on contact tracing and isolation, and we failed to prepare hospitals for a major outbreak. “Beijing cannot afford to be caught flat-footed by the virus and see all the achievements of Covid-19 wiped out as happened in Hong Kong.” Is China’s zero-Covid strategy a threat to the global economy?

Fry Electronics Team

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