While the whole world is freeing itself from the corona plague – and certainly from its limitations – precisely in China, the place where the disease first broke out, over 300 million people are under some kind of quarantine. This is a little less than a quarter of the total population of China. The most rigid and well-publicized closure is the one imposed since the end of March on residents of the country’s largest and richest city, Shanghai, due to the eruption of the Omicron variant in it.
Following the outbreak of the epidemic more than two years ago, China introduced a “zero cube” policy based on a desire to completely stop the spread of the virus. This is a policy that proved itself in the early stages, when China coped better than the West with the plague and returned to an almost normal life quickly, but the recent wave of Omicron that arrived posed new challenges for the power from the East.
The current wave of omicrons and the eruption in Shanghai have exposed the cruelty and extremism of the Zero Cubid policy, in which people who came in contact with them are isolated from the community in facilities where living conditions are very difficult and all businesses in the city close, even supermarkets. The most problematic result of all this is the lack of food and the blocking of the residents’ access to food. And so it happened that Shanghai – the richest city in China – found itself hungry. Precisely during the beginning of the plague in Wuhan, the delivery services worked well and provided food to the closed civilian homes, but this time this array completely collapsed.
China is more likely not to meet its 2022 growth targets
The zero cobid policy leads to a heavy human and economic cost. The human price is people who suffer from hunger and others who pay with their lives because they are unable to get medical treatment on time. On the economic side, following the closures, China’s plant output fell in April to its lowest level in two years, with a growing chance that China will not meet the growth target set by the government for 2022: 5.5%.
In videos coming from Shanghai, residents are seen standing on balconies and windows, knocking on pots and pans and shouting: “Bring us food.” In other cases, the situation escalated even to violent incidents between residents and authorities. Now China’s capital, Beijing, is also suffering from a wave of Omicron outbreaks, albeit in smaller numbers, and some estimate it may enter a closure as well.
Why does the Chinese government continue to adhere to the zero-cube policy and is unwilling to change it even in the face of the less lethal omicron variant? And is China, which has been almost completely isolated from the outside world for the past two years, going in the direction of a long-term closure from the West? All the answers in this week’s episode of “The Submarine of Globes.”