With the easing of Covid measures in China, many cities saw the return of New Year countdown celebrations, with major crowds congregating in droves. While the mood is upbeat, worries remain. Lianhe Zaobao’s China Desk looks at the people’s hopes for 2023.
China's renowned virologist Guan Yi has reappeared in public as the newly appointed chief of the Shanghai Virus Research Institute, after being denounced for his alarmist views of the pandemic at the start of its outbreak and speaking against the zero-Covid measures. But now, will his return mark an end to the harsh restrictions that have left the Chinese economy in a dire state?
A Chinese idiom says: If you ride a tiger, it’s hard to get off! Since being handed the reins by the Communist Party of China a decade ago, Xi Jinping hasn’t experienced “the year of the tiger” according to the Chinese zodiac. He will be riding into the tiger year this crucial year of 2022. Speculations are running high in China as everyone is asking: does Xi know how to get off a tiger?
In the face of greater challenges in containing Covid-19, China seems to have tweaked its zero-Covid strategy in Xi’an to that of “zero cases in communities”. Even so, the situation since a lockdown started on 23 December 2021 seems chaotic. What else needs to change as authorities tailor their approach to different cities and situations? Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu examines the issue.
Amrita Jash considers the impact of a devastating second wave of Covid-19 on India’s foreign policy and its relationships with the region and the world. She observes that India will continue to take a collective approach to fighting the pandemic as it guards its flanks vis-à-vis China and Pakistan and builds closer ties with the US and fellow members of the Quad.
A Joint WHO-China Study Team report has said that it is "extremely unlikely" that a Wuhan laboratory leak was the origin of the Covid-19 pandemic. Yet the US and other countries have cast doubts on the report, citing delay and access issues. China hit back, labelling this as another smear campaign. With each side singing their own tune, are the report results of any consequence?
Putting ideology and biases aside, there was no unlawful coercion in China’s Covid-19 measures and no ethical redlines were breached, says Deng Xize. Based on contract theory, people give up some of their rights in exchange for benefits. It is thus expected that people would accept strict measures under the threat of the pandemic. In fact, most of the Chinese population adhered to the measures, with some going overboard in certain cases.
Yu Zeyuan observes that local governments in China are racing to implement ever-tighter coronavirus measures in the face of an uptick in cases recently. Is this an overreaction and all too much of a show to demonstrate responsibility and preparedness at the citizens’ expense?
China has received favourable assessments from several quarters recently, from its handling of the pandemic to the way its economy is set to surpass the US’s earlier than planned. However, instead of revelling in such praise, China is keeping a relatively low profile. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu looks at why China is playing it cautious.