With the Omicron variant of the coronavirus spreading through China in a fresh wave of infections, is China’s current zero-Covid approach still feasible, given that strict measures did not stamp out the less transmissible Delta variant? To safeguard the economy and global supply chains, will a move towards a post-zero-Covid be inevitable, whether China likes it or not? Zaobao correspondent Edwin Ong reports.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s swing through three strategic island states — the Comoros, Maldives, and Sri Lanka — as part of his annual African tour at the beginning of January underlines China’s continuing quest for a larger role in the Indian Ocean. Are China’s economic incentives and themes of non-intervention and sovereign equality resonating with the Indian Ocean littoral at the expense of India and the US?
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.
In 2022, as global supply chains normalise and inflation gradually decreases, there is room for cautious optimism in the global economic outlook, but much will depend on countries’ fiscal policies and the extent to which the US Federal Reserve adjusts its interest rates. Economics professor Zhang Rui predicts that if investments of economic giants such as the US, the EU, Japan and China continue to rise, the global economy will expand, but emerging countries will need to be wary of increasing their debt burdens.
As the pandemic drags on with the new Omicron variant, Hong Kongers’ mistrust of the government is far from concealed. Some of them have taken to “resisting” government efforts in containing the pandemic. They, for example, have stopped using contact tracing apps or provided false information. Zaobao journalist Tai Hing Shing reports.
Cambodia, a lower-middle-income country, has enjoyed relative success in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Approximately 88% of the entire Cambodian population has been vaccinated, which makes it ranked 6th globally and only behind Singapore in ASEAN. Some have credited Cambodia’s success as a result of Chinese support, but academic Bradley Murg thinks that many other reasons are just as important.
Before rushing to conclude that China is turning inward and isolating itself from the world with its harsh zero-Covid policy, says US academic Wu Guo, the American media should do some soul-searching themselves on how US policies and negative American attitudes towards China have led to dwindling people-to-people contact.
Like many of us experiencing pandemic days, cultural historian Cheng Pei-kai spent the last two years living quietly. Even now, scenes on television are rife with pandemic news in the US. Watching health workers refusing to get vaccinated or the population spurning masks in defence of their freedoms, Cheng wonders why some people are willing to be “martyrs” for the cause they believe in. Or worse, are they just foolishly courting the virus? Maybe this really shows a great gulf in attitudes between the East and West.
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?