China’s anti-lockdown protests
#GS-02 Health, International Relations
China’s Zero Covid Policy:
- Zero Covid Policies involve complete control and maximum suppression for the elimination of the virus by using aggressive public health measures, such as contact-tracing, social isolation, mass testing, and lockdowns.
- As of November 2022, China, Macau, and North Korea are the only major countries still pursuing a zero-COVID strategy.
Why the protests are happening:
- Although China’s case numbers are low compared with global figures, the authorities have insisted on a “war of annihilation” against the virus.
- The major reason behind these protests are the deep-seated frustration and scepticism over the endless lockdowns, mass testing and quarantines Chinese people have recently endured.
Why China needs a zero Covid policy:
- The country has low vaccination rates among the elderly, a third of China’s 267mn people older than 60 have not received their third vaccine dose.
- Chinese culture is more risk-averse than many other countries when it comes to diseases and vaccines.
- Despite the Communist party’s enormous powers of social control, ordering the elderly to vaccinate is viewed as a step too far because of fears it would spark “dramatic social resistance”.
- Chinese-made vaccines provide high levels of protection from severe illness and death with three doses.
- But they are less effective and fade faster than the mRNA technology developed by BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna, which are used across the west.
- The Chinese are also untested in the event of a huge outbreak.
- Chinese government believes that the cost of losing national pride, the cost of losing market share to a foreign competitor, is much greater than using a marginally better vaccine that is not 100 per cent effective in preventing infection.
- Ordinary Chinese people were “very worried” about the risks of infection, especially the dangers to children and the elderly.
Economic Impact of this policy
- China’s growth has slowed to its lowest rates in decades while youth unemployment has risen to a record 20 percent as relentless lockdowns sap consumer demand and hobble manufacturing.