Three big issues impacting on the consciousness of Chinese people this week—the virus, a plane crash and Ukraine. Virus cases “surged” in China terms to a daily total of 3,600 on one day this week, with Shanghai being the center of activity, and that city basically went into lockdown. But the sense of frustration amongst people whose lives are inconvenienced by lockdowns and constant testing was palpable. The problem facing the Center is how to transition from a zero covid policy, and there appears to be no easy answer. Everyone knows that without the stringent methods taken over the past two years, China’s numbers would be astronomical, but could there be a sense of a shift in mood? There could. The current sledgehammer approach increasingly feels excessive, especially as most cases are asymptomatic.
The China Eastern plane crash, with 132 dead, also adds to the unease, given the puzzlement over what exactly happened. And ditto the external problem, Ukraine, where there is also no easy answer. It is now clear that the basic position on this issue will remain unchanged, with consequences that will depend on how nasty things get in the days and weeks ahead. But there are scenarios out there where China really feels the effect of a decision to stress Yankee faults, real or imagined, over Russkie actions. The opportunity is there for Chinese businesses to benefit in all sorts of ways from the conflict and its fallout, but there are big risks if they are grabbed. Basically, Putin broke the game, with incalculable consequences across the board. Hence to a large extent the mood swings.
Have a good weekend.