While the COVID pandemic spreads rapidly everywhere, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has taken measures to relax disease control, contrary to its previous harsh statements about its intention to pursue a “zero-COVID” policy based on lockdowns.
According to The Wall Street Journal, on November 16, China had nearly 20,000 cases of COVID. However, 9 out of 10 new infections were in Shanghai in April. But now, the number of recorded infections is evenly distributed throughout the country.
Guangzhou is the epicenter of an outbreak in Guangdong province, which reported more than 6,000 new cases on November 16. On the same day, Henan, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, and the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing all reported more than 1,000 new infections.
However, local authorities are easing pandemic prevention measures. For example, many cities no longer require mask-wearing, nor do residents need to present a negative COVID test in public places.
On November 16, Shanghai Disney Resort announced that many of its entertainment venues and hotel would be functioning on the 17th.
Signals to relax pandemic prevention policies have been sent from CCP agencies.
Last week, China’s National Health Commission criticized local authorities for enforcing arbitrary lockdown action, especially for schools and businesses.
The easing of COVID prevention measures comes as China’s economy stagnates due to prolonged lockdowns.
According to data released on November 15, retail sales in China unexpectedly fell for the first time in five months, factory output growth slowed, and property investment slowed even further.
Weifeng Zhong, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center, said that to change its COVID policy, Beijing would first need to let its propaganda machine explain why it had to use draconian measures in the past and now why it relaxed.
Recently, the CCP added “dynamic” to the name “zero-COVID policy” to become “Dynamic zero-COVID policy” after its “zero-COVID” was criticized for being too extreme and lacking practical effect.