China returns to “optimization” of anti-Covid restrictions

This is bad news for the global economy. China remains inflexible on its zero Covid policy, which is not bearing fruit. Indeed, with 31,444 new cases on Wednesday, of which 27,517 are asymptomatic, a sad record has been broken. The new figures are higher than the 29,317 local infections recorded in mid-April, when Shanghai – the world’s third most populous city – was under lockdown and its residents struggled to buy food and access medical care.

China: Xi Jinping’s “Zero Covid” policy continues to weaken the economy

The consequences were not long in coming: oil prices plunged on Wednesday, weighed down in part by fears around the increase in positive cases. Indeed, the anti-covid policy is impacting the Chinese economy and by extension the global economy.

China, with a population of 1.4 billion, is the only major economy in the world still trying to stem the spread of the virus in the country, shutting down entire cities and placing contacts of infected patients under strict quarantine. . “

In Beijing, residents mentally exhausted by restrictions

Thus, in Beijing, dozens of residential buildings have been confined and companies are generalizing teleworking. The capital, however, only recorded nearly 1,500 new positive cases on Wednesday – the vast majority asymptomatic – for 22 million inhabitants. A level never reached in the capital but which remains very low according to international criteria. Schools, restaurants and shops closed again, fear of being placed in quarantine: a large part of the inhabitants of Beijing are now mentally exhausted by these restrictions, which are often vague and changing, the duration of which is never announced in advance.

Thousands of temporary hospital rooms built in Guangzhou

The government had however announced on November 11 a “ optimizationn” anti-Covid restrictions, with the relaxation of several measures, including the reduction of the duration of quarantines, in particular for travelers arriving from abroad. But Shijiazhuang, a township neighboring Beijing that was seen as a pilot city to test this reopening strategy, has backtracked on most of the relaxations – as have other localities. Several other major Chinese cities, including Shanghai and Chongqing, have also tightened restrictions. The manufacturing center in Guangzhou, the epicenter of the current Covid wave, has built thousands of temporary hospital rooms to accommodate patients.

“A slow, expensive and bumpy road to reopening”

The road to reopening could be slow, expensive and bumpy “, estimated in a note Ting Lu, economist for the bank Nomura. China has yet to approve the use of messenger RNA vaccines, which are believed to be more effective. Another black spot: only 85% of people over 60 had received two doses of vaccines by mid-August, according to health authorities. Optimism about a possible reopening of China has given way to the understanding that any prospect of reopening could take months”already underlined on November 9 Michael Hewson, analyst at CMC Markets. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts growth of 3.2% this year in China, which would be its weakest pace in four decades, excluding the pandemic.

Zhengzhou orders confinement of six million people amid social revolt

Zhengzhou, home to a huge iPhone factory, on Thursday ordered the confinement of six million people from midnight Friday after an outbreak of Covid-19 led to violent protests at the industrial site. Hundreds of workers marched past the factory on Wednesday and faced police, who were armed with batons and dressed in full white protective suits. In the aftermath, Zhengzhou authorities ordered a major screening campaign in several districts of the city. These neighborhoods are confined for five days from Friday midnight. Clearly, the inhabitants of the city center, or six million people, are no longer allowed to leave the area without a negative PCR test and authorization from the local authorities. They are advised not to leave their homes, “ unless necessary “. These measures concern several districts, affecting about half of the inhabitants of Zhengzhou. They do not cover the area of ​​the iPhone factory, where workers have already been subject to restrictions for several weeks. Last month, workers, panicked by the unexpected confinement of the factory, had fled the site on foot, some complaining of the disorganization reigning on the spot.