Shanghai, a city of 13 million people, is once again on the verge of a lockdown after more than half the city’s districts were subjected to mandatory testing. Authorities say 24 new cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the last 24 hours.

Shanghai just emerged from a two-month lockdown that shuttered thousands of businesses, including restaurants, nightclubs, and other entertainment venues. The Chinese economy can ill afford to take another hit if much of the country is once again forced to lock down.

Beijing is also seeing a spike in positive tests. Authorities have ordered anyone entering a public place to show proof of vaccination — a first for the capital.

And in Xian, the first outbreak of the BA.5 subvariant has caused consternation among the Communist authorities of that province. President Xi has shown no sign of abandoning the strict “COVID zero” policy despite the rest of the world moving on to a policy of living with the virus.


The fresh flareups and the local spread of a highly infectious omicron variant show the challenges authorities face in stamping out coronavirus, and signals economic pain may persist. While authorities are yet to roll out strict lockdowns in major parts of the country, President Xi Jinping last week reaffirmed the country would stick to Covid Zero and said China would rather endure some temporary impact on economic development than let the virus hurt people’s safety and health.

The zero-tolerance approach leaves the country isolated in a world that’s largely moved to existing with the virus, and keeps businesses and residents living with the constant threat of getting stuck in a cycle of disruptive shutdowns and reopenings.

Related: Fauci Fanboys on Chinese-style Lockdowns, Admits Real Purpose of Lockdowns

The Yangtze River Delta region — the manufacturing center of China that accounts for one-quarter of the nation’s economic output — is also looking at possible lockdowns as the virus spreads.

The eastern province of Anhui reported 222 cases for Tuesday, most of them coming from the two small counties already under lockdown.

In the north, Tianjin, which boasts Airbus SE’s plane assembly line, also saw a fresh flareup. Nationwide, a total of 353 infections were reported from at least 11 provinces for Tuesday.

Elsewhere, gambling hub Macau shut one casino due to a cluster, while Hong Kong health officials warned the city’s outbreak is worsening as cases topped 2,000.

President Xi is stuck. The Communist Party in China is losing credibility as these lockdowns prove to be ineffective. On the other hand, Xi has made a big propaganda deal about China caring more about its people than western capitalists. To admit the capitalists are right and reopen the country would be a blow to Xi’s personal credibility and the party’s hold on power.

China’s struggles with COVID might be emotionally satisfying, but they are also very worrying. A deep recession in China’s 15-trillion-dollar economy would drag the rest of the world into economic trouble. And with the United States already in recession, it could be a very long, very painful period coming up for the west and the U.S.

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