No immediate end in sight to China’s non-proliferation policy | CNN

Hong Kong

China has reiterated its firm commitment to its long-standing policy of no Covid-19, despite growing public frustration with the draconian measures costing the lives it aims to protect.

Unfounded rumors of an exit from the costly strategy sent Chinese stocks higher last week, but at a press conference on Saturday, Chinese health officials vowed to continue the country’s zero-tolerance approach aimed at eradicating cases of Covid as soon as it broke out.

The ongoing campaign has kept the number of infections and deaths low at a significant economic and social cost, as rapidly spreading new variables make containment of the virus nearly impossible.

“Practice has proven that our epidemic prevention and control policy and a series of strategic measures are absolutely correct, the most economic and effective,” said Hu Xiang, a disease control official, when asked whether China would adjust its policies on the COVID-19 virus. term.

“We must adhere to the principle of giving priority to people and lives, and the broader strategy to prevent imports from external and internal reversals,” Hu Jintao said.

The announcement dealt a heavy blow to hopes of easing restrictions, which were fueled by unverified rumors on social media that China was setting up a high-level committee to stay away from zero Covid. Shares of Chinese companies listed in mainland China, Hong Kong and the US rose last week as investors eagerly tapped into any speculation about a possible relaxation.

The pledge to commit to Zero-Covid has also come as a huge disappointment to the Chinese public, many of whom are increasingly fed up with constant mass testing, central quarantines and strict lockdowns – sometimes lasting for months on end.

Public frustration and discontent has only increased in recent weeks, after Supreme Leader Xi Jinping began his third term in the normative power with a blatant endorsement of the no-Covid-19 policy.

Tragic cases seen as being linked to politics have gained momentum on the internet as people question why they persist.

On Friday, a 55-year-old woman fell to her death from the 12th floor of a closed apartment complex in Hohhot, the capital of the northern region of Inner Mongolia. The complex was closed in late October after two cases were reported, with the building’s entrance fenced with high barriers.

In a widely shared audio message, the woman’s daughter is heard banging on the barrier and crying bitterly for help, pleading with community workers to open the barrier so she can rush to her mother.

“Open the gate! Open the gate! I beg of you, please,” a scream was heard.

In another video, the daughter is seen kneeling and crying next to her mother who is lying motionless on the floor still wearing a face mask.

The desperate scenes sparked outrage nationwide, with a related hashtag garnering half a billion views on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform. In a statement, local police said the woman, who lived with her 29-year-old daughter, was suffering from anxiety disorders.

The woman’s death added to a growing list of lives lost during the country’s harsh lockdowns. In another tragedy that sparked nationwide outrage, a 3-year-old boy died of gas poisoning on Wednesday in a closed compound in the northwestern city of Lanzhou after Covid restrictions delayed rescue efforts.

Experts have warned that China could experience a new wave of infections – and a new cycle of government-imposed lockdowns – as winter approaches.

China reported 5,496 local infections on Sunday, reaching its highest level in six months, according to official data.

More than a third of these infections were reported in the southern city of Guangzhou. The city of 19 million people is battling its worst outbreak since the beginning of the epidemic, with large swathes of Hezhou under lockdown.

At a news conference Sunday, officials accused some residents of spreading the virus by breaking lockdown rules and removing barriers to going out for daily supplies.

Even in places not subject to extended lockdowns, ongoing Covid testing ordinances and strict travel restrictions have fueled growing discontent.

In Beijing, authorities have kept strict requirements for entry to the Chinese capital – the home of most of China’s top leaders. The restrictions were tightened further in the run-up to the Communist Party Congress in October, and have not been relaxed since.

Residents and business travelers have complained about a pop-up on their Beijing health app that prevents them from returning to the capital, despite negative Covid test results.

In a clear indication of the extent of public discontent, among those who spoke out against the excessive restrictions were members of the political elite and national influencers. Tao Silang, the daughter of Tao Zhou, a former member of the Standing Committee of the Communist Party’s Supreme Politburo, criticized Beijing’s travel restrictions after a pop-up prevented her from returning home from a trip to the eastern province of Zhejiang.

The 81-year-old wrote in an article on social media that has since been deleted.

The hassles of returning to Beijing proved too great for Zhou Xiaoping, a fiercely nationalist and anti-American blogger whom Xi picked at a conference on art and literature in 2014. In a series of Weibo posts, he openly questioned far-reaching travel restrictions and criticized propaganda efforts that inflate deaths Covid abroad.

“What does it mean to do this?” He wrote in a post that was later removed. The cost of preventing an epidemic is not only an economic cost, there are also costs to our livelihoods and lives. Since you (pledged) put people first, you have to look for facts from facts.”

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