Shanghai outbreak; Historical nihilism; EU-China; Steps toward US-China audit deal
The PRC is officially on holiday today and tomorrow for the Qingming Tomb Sweeping Festival but there is no rest for the 25 million or so residents of Shanghai and the people trying to get the Shanghai Omicron outbreak under control.
Shanghai officials took a looser approach to managing the latest outbreak, but they failed. The chaos that has ensued has been shocking for many, and especially as it has occurred what is supposed to be the PRC city with the most competent officials.
Vice Premier and Politburo member Sun Chunlan, China’s Covid firefighter, went to Shanghai on Saturday to adjust policies and attitudes. Wherever she goes, hard lockdowns seem to follow.
The PLA has sent in 2,000 personnel and other regions have sent in 36,000 people to help, a magnitude of external personnel support not seen since the original Wuhan outbreak.
It is hard to see how Shanghai does not stay locked down at least into next week, if not even longer. It is also hard to see how they will not resolve the chaos of the last few days and get the outbreak under control.
There are too many unvaccinated elderly and not an advanced enough medical infrastructure, even in Shanghai, for Beijing to allow any shift to a “live with it” approach to Covid, no matter how frustrated some citizens are becoming, and no matter the economic cost. That was the message from the March 17th Standing Committee meeting, and this mess in Shanghai is going to be a clear lesson for officials throughout the country.
The 5.5% GDP growth target that looked ambitious when announced one month ago now looks to be a real stretch goal.
Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang is also a Politburo member and has been mentioned as the possible next Premier. That too looks ambitious now.
Today’s Essential Eight:
South Korean clothes cause Beijing outbreak, new variant found in Suzhou
Historical nihilism and the disintegration of the USSR
Wang Yi speaks with Ukraine FM
More positives signs of possible US-China audit deal
Carrie Lam to spend more time with her family, not run again