Confinements have shut down some of China’s largest cities as infections increase, hurting an economy that is not growing as fast as it used to

Chinese Communist Party rulers continue to pursue a zero-infection strategy despite the fact that new variants of the virus, while more contagious, are incomparably less harmful to the vaccinated population.

The confinements highlight the rigid strategy against the virus of the Communist Party, just the year that President Xi Jinping intends to take advantage of to break with the tradition of renewal of positions and perpetuate himself in power. For now, Beijing insists on maintaining the policy of zero infections by keeping all kinds of restrictions (the kind that dictators love to impose), although the risk of China falling into recession is increasing.

In Shaghai alone there were 27,719 cases in the last 7 days, of which 2,573 had severe or serious symptoms but more than 6 million people were allowed to leave their homes in areas where there were no new cases for at least a week. Another 15 million remain banned from going outside.

Shanghai is easing the confinement of its 25 million people after complaints that there were problems getting food but most businesses remain closed. Other cities are cutting off access and closing factories and schools.

The problem now is not only that the world’s factory will close its doors, thus blowing up (again) the whole supply chain, but this time the confinements may also affect the planting season of Chinese farmers, significantly reducing food production, leading to inevitable price increases and more competition for raw materials in international markets.

Most people have patiently complied despite protests over food and medicine shortages, but videos of protests and clashes between citizens and confinement personnel are circulating on social media.

The economic consequences will be felt soon. The volume of goods handled by the port of Shanghai, the world’s busiest port, has fallen by 40%, according to an estimate by the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.

Restrictions in the smartphone and consumer electronics production zones are leading to cut this year’s economic growth expectations to 5%, down sharply from last year’s 8.1% expansion. Automakers have suspended production altogether due to disrupted supply deliveries.

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