Chinese President Xi Jinping was not seen in public for over a week after attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Uzbekistan, sparking rumours of a “coup” ahead of the 20th Party Congress. Zaobao associate editor Han Yong Hong looks into the phenomenon, noting that in fact the 20th Party Congress has seen relatively few rumours surrounding it.
The latest Covid-19 outbreak in Shanghai has thrown the city into chaos, with the implementation of a full lockdown despite the authorities initially insisting otherwise to avoid the serious social and economic costs. Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu looks at how the worsening situation in Shanghai is turning an epidemic containment issue into a political one.
Despite past macroeconomic stability, the US economy is beginning to see increased inflation across many sectors. Reports say that US consumer price figures for January due on Thursday could show core inflation rising to the fastest pace since 1982 at 5.9%. The situation is not helped by the government's recent move to issue additional debt which was mostly purchased by Fed banks. If the US government defaults on its debt, the global financial market will be affected. Higher interest rates to fight inflation in the US may also require that China and other Asian economies adjust their own domestic policies on interest rates and exchange rates.
Even as the Chinese government sticks to its zero-Covid strategy, with lockdowns and other measures to handle even single cases of infection, Zaobao correspondent Yang Danxu observes that sometimes under the pressure of meeting the policy, the authorities can go overboard with their measures. Although the people have largely adopted a grin-and-bear-it attitude, if this policy is set to persist for some time, perhaps some consideration and practical adjustments are in order?
Zaobao’s Beijing correspondent Yang Danxu experienced a 14-day home quarantine for being in the vicinity of Covid-19 patients while in Gansu. From her first-hand experience, she observes that people at large have gotten used to and even expect sudden but orderly disruptions when outbreaks erupt and are stamped out under a zero-Covid regime. But as borders start opening around the world, will China be forced to open up to new mindsets of living with the virus?
Despite various waves of the coronavirus resurfacing in different parts of China, the authorities have effectively implemented a zero-Covid policy to control the spread of infections, including the more transmissible Delta variant. Academic Gu Qingyang notes that while the policy has largely worked and helped to keep China’s economy humming, it is specific to China's conditions and may not be replicable elsewhere.
Looking back at a year and a half of the Covid war, US academic Wu Guo notes that its impact is no less lethal than the two world wars. He shares his experience living through measures in the US, which have been a mixed bag balancing individual freedoms with societal needs and economic realities. Each country has its own model and only history can tell what worked best.
Since the military coup in Myanmar in February, China has been criticised by the West for not taking a strong stand against the situation. Chinese researcher Peng Nian explains China's difficult position and its hope for ASEAN to successfully mitigate the problem. What China can do now is to assist Myanmar with the fight against the pandemic, he says.
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?