Dr. Steve Wong
The Deputy Prime Minister of China, Sun Chunlan, expressed in the last few days that the virus pathogenicity of the Omicron virus is weakening and China is in a position to improve the prevention and control measures. It raised the speculation that China, the only country in the world to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, has suddenly changed, as she did not mention the continuation of the COVID-zero policy. It also implies that the COVID-19 pandemic period is over. The antigen test measures for public areas and when using public transportation facilities in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu had been called off. Following the removal of booths at general test points, residents in China are trying to get the usual relief medicines as a precaution in case of infection.
Foreign media such as CNN, BBC and FOX News reported with the information quoted from the discussion of President Xi with European Council President – Charles Michel that the people in China resisted the complete lockdown. It entailed the “white paper revolution” in universities, social areas and major cities, and spread to many other countries with protests. It was rare that President Xi reckoned people were depressed after three years of the pandemic period, but the cores of protesting groups were students. People in China were astonished by the scene when watching TV and found that nobody wore facemasks in the football stadiums of World Cup football matches. Only China is still struggling with COVID, which led to many jobless, having no income, no freedom, and some people on the verge of dying due to illness.
Looking at the business sector, many foreign enterprises expressed their intention to move out from China if the COVID-zero policy continues, as the lockdown deterred the buyers from placing orders. Domestic sales in China are weak, the property bubble has busted, high jobless rate, the people are in dire straits, and many enterprises are in financial difficulties. Such effects are far-reaching if the COVID control measures are not relaxed now.
People generally want to see both China and Hong Kong opened up for tourism, resume the free flow of people, and the normal operations of service industries such as catering, retail and amusements. There will be no protest when people’s life is back to normal. As the second major economy in the world, ending the COVID-zero policy benefits China and the rest of the world.