A Peep Into Everyday China : Dragon on a Drip

Aadi and I had a discussion on the crisis in Shanghai and then very next day all these headlines appeared in the South China Morning Post.  

When I opened the South China Morning Post App on 18 Apr, it was an eyeopener. So many sob stories on one day? Well, these days this seems to be the trend. If you do not believe me, check out from the links. Except my comments, nothing is original. All stories are from the Chinese reporters themselves. 

Headline: Coronavirus: China’s top expert writes of eventual return to normal, but article deleted at home 

Excerpts: ‘Prolonged dynamic zeroing cannot be pursued in the long run,’ Zhong Nanshan and Guan Weijie write in National Science Review…China is fine-tuning Covid-19 border restrictions to shorten quarantine for incoming travellers to eight cities. China’s top Covid-19 expert Zhong Nanshan has said the country cannot pursue “dynamic zero-Covid” in the long term and should reopen to bring social and economic development back to normal, and adapt to global reopening.The editorial titled “Strategies for reopening in the forthcoming Covid-19 era in China” was published in the English-language National Science Review journal on April 6. A Chinese translated copy of the article was published on mainland news sites on Monday but has since been deleted.“China needs to reopen so as to normalise socio-economic development and adapt to global reopening. Prolonged dynamic zeroing cannot be pursued in the long run,” Zhong wrote with co-author Guan Weijie, an associate researcher with the State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Disease in Guangzhou. 

 My Comment : Wow! Six months back  Zhong Nanshan’s word was gods gospel in China’s zero covid policy. He was China’s Faucci…Today he seems to be the devil’s advocate… hence deleted…

Headline : China doubles down on zero-Covid policy ahead of Communist Party congress

Excerpts : Health Minister Ma Xiaowei tells party journal the bottom line is to prevent outbreaks and consolidate hard-won results. Any relaxation could trigger an outbreak that could crush the country’s healthcare system, he warns. China’s health minister has pledged the toughest measures yet to prevent a major outbreak of Covid-19, ruling out any relaxations ahead of this year’s 20th Communist Party national congress.In a front-page article published on Monday by Study Times, Ma Xiaowei urged the country to stick to the “dynamic zero-Covid” policy and take a clear-cut stand against “erroneous” thoughts of “coexisting with the virus”.The bottom line was to prevent a large-scale rebound in cases and consolidate the hard-won results of pandemic control to welcome the opening of the five-yearly congress, expected in the second half of the year, he said in the commentary for the Central Party School journal.

My Comment : The Chinese Communist Party has only one play tune and its called Zero Covid! Between the political control and scientific opinion of China there seems to be confusion …or is it panic?

Headline : China’s snap lockdowns are threatening its role in global value chains@                               

Excerpts: Lockdowns have turned country into a patchwork quilt of fragmented cargo flows and people trying to get aroundThe tough approach is disrupting trade and will eventually hurt China’s role in global value chainsLocal governments across China have been dutifully implementing snap lockdowns to comply with Beijing’s “dynamic zero” approach to Covid-19. Lockdowns can be triggered by only a few cases of the highly infectious Omicron strain of the coronavirus, and lifted when there is no further transmission outside quarantine zones. One problem of this tough approach is the nervousness that pervades society, as nobody can predict exactly when and where the next outbreak of Covid-19 will occur. Wuhu, a city in eastern Anhui province, with a population about half the size of Hong Kong’s, declared a lockdown on Sunday morning after one positive case was confirmed, four days after it announced the whole-area had a “low risk” status. Cities in China have also started to impose quarantine and testing requirements for visitors, turning what was once an integrated and unified nation into a patchwork quilt of fragmented cargo flows and people trying to get around.                                                                                                               

My Comments: So much for declaring victory over the Virus. When a staid paper like SCMP puts out a story like this…imagine the actual condition

Headline : China’s rising household debt is shattering dreams of financial freedom, and ‘fears are spreading’

Excerpts: Salary reductions, lay-offs, lockdowns and regulatory crackdowns are upending the lives of those who were once the envy of China’s middle class. If coronavirus-induced lockdowns and restrictions drag out for more than two months, some warn that the impact could be ‘unimaginable’Across China, people such as Eli Mai, a 40-year-old sales manager at a consulting firm in Guangzhou, were long held up as the envy of the middle class – empowering examples of what could be achieved with a decent job. But that was back when China’s economic growth was the envy of the world. Today, even as he owns two properties and remains employed, Mai is buried in debt and constantly worries about losing his job in the face of poor economic prospects and mounting pressure from both domestic and international sources.

My Comment : Ask any economist… fear, nervousness, debt, unimaginable…these are words which make them sweat…this problem of pay cuts…lay-offs…lockdowns is not new…been hearing about it for more than a year. The bottom of the pyramid seems wobbly.  

Headline : China GDP: economy grew, but ‘more pain will come’ as coronavirus, lockdown pressures weigh on outlook

Excerpts : China’s economy grew by 4.8 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 compared with a year earlier, up from the 4 per cent growth seen in the fourth quarter of last year. Retail sales fell by 3.5 per cent in March from a year earlier, while industrial production grew by 5 per cent last month and the surveyed jobless rate rose to 5.8 per centChina’s first quarter growth beat expectations, but weaknesses highlighted by the ongoing coronavirus wave hang over the economic outlook, with questions being asked if Beijing will take further action to guard against multiple headwinds. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.8 per cent in the first three months of 2022 compared with a year earlier, which was confirmed on Monday, was higher than the 4 per cent expansion registered in the previous quarter and is in stark contrast to the start of 2020, when China’s economy shrank by 6.8 per cent..But in the first three months of this year, consumption, exports and investment are all losing steam and businesses and residents in Shanghai, which has been under a de facto lockdown since the end of March, are demanding action.

My Comments : Vulnerable population, poor vaccines , fear of disease, aging, loss of control…are the Chinese getting  Shanghaied?


Headline : Nowhere to hide for Chinese developers as slump deepens amid cash crunch, debt defaults despite easing measures @

Excerpts: Home sales fell 25.6 per cent last quarter as concerns about credit squeeze, debt defaults side-lined buyers.Local authorities in more than 60 municipalities have taken steps to unshackle the market from rules hobbling the industry. A slump in China’s property market deepened after key industry indicators weakened last quarter, as piecemeal efforts by local governments proved to be too little too late to overturn bearish sentiment among developers and consumers. Property sales sank 22.7 per cent to 2.96 trillion yuan (US$465.4 billion) from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday, compared with an 88.5 per cent gain in the same period last year. The latest setback was mainly due to a 25.6 per cent slide in the residential market, it added. “The sales data in various places in March was really bad, with many cities generally showing declines exceeding 40 per cent,” said Yan Yuejin, research director at Shanghai-based E-house China Research and Development Institute. “This also shows that the easing policy since the fourth quarter of last year has not fully produced the desired impact.”

My Comments: Remember Evergarnde crisis? The talk of the town before Ukraine. The problem has not gone away anywhere. It will resurface to trouble uncle Xi…. 


Overall Comment : Dragon on a drip ? At least the one on the top in the cartoon is fit for a drip…


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