In China, the Covid-19 is starting again: the epidemic is even at its highest level for six months. No more question therefore of relaxing the very strict health policy which nevertheless weighs more and more on the population.

A man is tested for Covid-19 in a street in Shanghai (China), November 1, 2022. (HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP)

5,000 new cases on Monday, nearly 8,000 the next day: the figures remain very modest across the country. In March, for example, there were almost ten times more contamination. But this obvious rebound is enough for Beijing to give an additional turn of the screw to its zero-Covid policy, which has never ceased to be applied.

In Europe, we have little forgotten the Covid, but China is still living to the rhythm of school closures, massive confinements. A few cases in a neighborhood and an entire city can find itself completely isolated, with daily screenings of people who test positive taken – willingly or by force – to quarantine centers. All this creates a feeling of exasperation which grows day by day.

A few days ago in the city of Lanzhou, in the center of the country, a 3-year-old boy died in his apartment, poisoned by carbon monoxide. He could have been saved if he had been taken to the hospital, except that the agents in charge of monitoring the confinement of his residence refused to let him out. Her father posted an accusatory message on social media, which was later deleted. Another dramatic news item, this weekend in the confined city of Hohhot, in Inner Mongolia: a 55-year-old woman threw herself out of the window. Her daughters had however alerted the emergency services, explaining that their mother suffered from anxiety and had suicidal thoughts. They were never able to enter. The doors of the building had been welded, by the neighborhood committee… to prevent the inhabitants from leaving.

Falling exports

These repeated confinements also have serious consequences for the second economy of the planet. Seen from the West, the factory of the world is no longer considered a reliable supplier. To take just one example, the world’s largest iPhone factory, Foxconn, in Zhengzhou, is operating in slow motion.

Fewer and fewer billionaires

All these bad figures have fueled rumors in recent weeks of a relaxation of health policy. Hopes showered this weekend by the health authorities. China sticks “unwaveringly” to its strategy. This could disappoint investors hoping for a lift
restrictions. The prospect of a global recession could make matters worse.

For the record, China has never had so few billionaires. According to the ranking established by the Chinese firm Hurun published on Tuesday, 1,305 people have a fortune estimated at at least five billion yuan (about 691 million dollars), a figure down 11% over one year. It is especially the strongest fall for 24 years.