The omicron variant could make China a victim of its success, as the “zero covid” policy prolongs the country’s isolation, when the rest of the world glimpses an endemic phase for the disease, analysts point out.
“In 2022, China will face the highly transmissible ómicron, with apparently less effective vaccines and far fewer people protected by antibodies created by previous infections,” noted US political risk consultant Eurasia Group in a report.
The blocking measures to contain the outbreaks should be even more frequent and harsh, involving tens of millions of people, the same document reads.
“This crisis will continue until China can launch domestically developed messenger RNA vaccines and boosters for its 1.4 billion people, which is still at least a year away”, added.
The zero-case policy implied the suspension of business and tourism trips or academic exchanges abroad.
Whoever arrives in the country has to undergo a quarantine period that varies between two and four weeks, depending on the province of destination. The authorities also require the presentation of the certificate negative of serological tests type IgG and IgM and the PCR nucleic acid test before shipment.
Internally, the authorities adopt the same zeal: detection of an outbreak results in the immediate application of containment measures, mass testing and restrictions on travel.
Two years after the first cases of covid-19 were diagnosed in the city of Wuhan, central China, the country has thus established itself as an example of public health success.
According to data from the Chinese Government, since the beginning of the pandemic, 102,932 people have been infected and 4,636 have died. In comparison, the United States, the great geopolitical and ideological rival of the People’s Republic, added up to more than 800,000 deaths.
The rapid recovery of activity The economic situation also allowed Chinese manufacturers to increase their share of the global market, at a time when foreign competitors were dealing with successive restrictive measures to prevent the disease.
The triumph reinforced the regime’s narrative about the superiority of authoritarianism, in the face of the “decline” of the liberal West.
“The The idea that the West did everything better is over”, sums up to the Lusa agency a European diplomat stationed in Beijing, adding: “After this epidemic, the Chinese will never look at us the same way again”.
But Beijing’s triumphal speech now seems to have cornered the country in a position with unpredictable impact.
The growth rate of the Chinese economy, the second largest in the world, and is already decelerating to the lowest levels in decades. Domestic travel has also slowed as tourists fear new outbreaks will emerge. Domestic consumption registers ups and downs, through the intensification of preventive measures.
The country can also suffer diplomatically. Chinese President Xi Jinping has not left China or received foreign visitors since early 2020, at a time when he faces growing rivalry with the United States and other Western countries.
The approach also affects the semi-autonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau. In an attempt to align their prevention policies with the Chinese mainland, the global financial center and the world’s gambling “capital”, respectively, risk harming their main activities.
The consequences for global markets will be significant, including for raw material suppliers such as Angola and Brazil, which have China as their main export market for oil, iron ore or soy.
The Eurasia Group points to the risks of economic disruption and resentment among public opinion, but notes that China is a unique political experience, able to challenge these predictions.
“China has proven for decades that its authoritarian political system creates a degree of political control that we do not see in other important countries, whether democracies or other authoritarian states”, note.
“As China becomes much more technologically innovative, the its government and public security have increasingly effective tools to maintain this control”, considers.