The virus and Ukraine dominated the week yet again, and neither issue is going well from the perspective of the Center.
The virus hit China’s largest and most economically important city hard and while the city administrators originally appeared to be of the view that a modified and flexible approach was appropriate, the center said no, full-on zero is the only goal. The result? The mother of all lockdowns and no clear roadmap to an exit. Our best sense of the viral state of play came from a scientist who said that the success of the Omicron variant this time is directly related to its low virulence and speedy transmission capability – a stealth mode. Trying to nail it down, he said, just doesn’t work. The right approach is .. modified and flexible. But the center is having none of that. Meanwhile almost all cases are asymptomatic and even those with symptoms report it to be a bad cold. But the zero goal now has vast political implications. So on it goes. With economic and social consequences that are sure to be massive.
The Ukraine remained the top international issue and the perception remained of China being not on the fence. A meeting with the EU was uncomfortable and China objected to a UN vote that resulted in Russia being removed with the Human Rights Committee. But a Chinese official did say that reports of death and destruction in Bucha were disturbing, balancing that with a call for facts to be verified before conclusions are drawn. Overall China appears to be being cautious in concrete assistance, but if and when the Russian economy is pushed by sanctions to the wall, then the call will come and there are many eyes watching how they respond.
A strange spring with lots of elephant traps ahead.
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