A new round of Covid outbreaks has emerged in mainland China, spreading to more than 20 provinces and cities. Most of the new cases are asymptomatic.
The Chinese authorities have imposed nucleic acid testing and containment measures in many parts of the country, frightening both locals and foreigners, and making them flee.
Large-scale control measures implemented
The Chinese Health Commission announced on July 21 that more than 940 new cases of Covid were found in a single day, July 20, of which over 740 cases were asymptomatic. With the Chinese Communist Party’s typical practice of concealment, the real number of Covid cases could be higher.
Various localities have increased their pandemic control measures.
In Shanghai, the authorities require everyone to take Covid tests at least once a week until the end of August. If anyone is not tested every week, their health code will turn yellow, and their travel permission will be restricted.
In Shenzhen, the local government locked down Baishizhou village, where many migrant workers live. Some streets in the village are classified as high-risk areas and residents are not allowed to leave the community for seven days.
Videos on social media show that just before the lockdown took effect, some residents quickly climbed over the fence and promptly fled their homes with luggage.
In Beijing, the city’s municipal government decided to further prevent hotels from hosting weddings, parties and conferences, which triggered a lot of questions and criticism.
In Guangxi, more than 10,000 medical and health workers, public security personnel, administrative agencies, and 30 mobile Covid testing trucks were mobilized to participate in the fight against the epidemic.
Much of Lanzhou city, in Gansu province, has been locked down for nearly a week. The local government has launched a “knock on the door” campaign, with 10,000 medical workers coming to each house in high- and medium-risk areas to conduct Covid tests.
Both Chinese and foreign people escape
Like in Shenzhen, many Chinese residents chose to flee the country and go to Europe and the United States where the Covid pandemic is supposed to be more serious, but where restrictive measures have long eased.
The Guardian news outlet quoted (Ms.) Wendy Luo in Shanghai said she had endured months of lockdowns and weeks of food and drink shortages in the city. So she decided to flee Shanghai and flee China.
Luo, 29, had studied and worked in France for six years and had a valid French resident visa. Now, when looking for an exit strategy, she feels lucky because she quickly managed to find a job in Paris.
Luo said when she left Shanghai, the Chinese border officials asked her many questions, including why she left the country, what she had been doing in Shanghai for the past two years, and what she was going to do in France. The most important question is whether she plans to return to China in the short term.
She said she had to pretend to be calm in answering those questions, but she was extremely nervous.
A history teacher named Mark Li also quit China because of a new pandemic wave.
Li told the Guardian that he returned to China in the summer of 2020 after spending four years as an undergraduate student in the U.S.
He said that the idea of leaving China initially started with the frustration of censorship that began to build in his day-to-day job. And when Shanghai began the lockdown, he started to wonder why the residents’ rights could be so easily taken away, even in the most outward-looking city like Shanghai.
The 24-year-old teacher said that when he first returned to China two years ago, he wanted to live and work well there and was very optimistic. But the Covid pandemic has exposed the rotten core of Chinese politics and brought the country to the bottom in just two years.
Foreigners cannot stand China’s zero-Covid policy and harsh containment measures. They have to find ways to escape the country.
Spanish lawyer Andrea Caballe has lived in Beijing since 2012 and is now working for the European Union, facilitating legal exchanges between Europe and China.
She has returned to her hometown in Barcelona.
In an interview with The Guardian, Cavalle, 37, said her life and career in Beijing were going well, but she was stressed and frustrated when the lockdown measures came.
She said: “I spent a decade of my life in China. I have loved this country, but now I feel that I have no choice but to go back home.”
Foreign companies reassess their economic prospects in China
Not only foreign people, but foreign companies are having a hard time in China.
Radio Free Asia reported that China’s zero-Covid strategy is forcing European and American companies to look for business opportunities in China to reassess their economic prospects in the country.
On July 20, Joerg Wuttke, chairman of the E.U. Chamber of Commerce in China, said that he temporarily canceled his trip from Beijing to Chengdu scheduled on July 25.
He said that there are some cases of Covid positives in Chengdu, and six districts are high-risk areas. If he goes to Chengdu, he will not be able to return to Beijing, because he will have to go into quarantine.
Woodke said: “We’re heading into an unknown situation, we don’t know when the next lockdown will come or which city will take that hit next time.”
He also said that at least 60% of the funds initially intended for China have been withdrawn and turned to other investment centers.
Woodke said: “China is no longer a favored future investment destination because there is some uncertainty that everyone faces right now.”