China Snippets - Rumor mill says Beijing may lockdown on April 28th, stock market crashes
Is Sun Chunlan planning to export her stunning success in Shanghai?
View from China with an Austrian School of Economics Perspective
After Beijing’s Chaoyang District ordered 3 rounds of mass PCR tests this week, Beijing residents stormed the food markets to stock up for a possible Shanghai repeat. The Shanghai stock market crashed by 5%.
The Chaoyang government announced a partial lockdown in this area:
Residents living within this zone have been instructed to remain within the zone and only leave their housing compounds if absolutely necessary.
According to some reports, a city-wide lockdown is planned for April 28th.
No Sign of Decrease in Shanghai Case Numbers
Meanwhile in Shanghai, there is no end in sight, with over 515,000 cumulative cases and 20,000 new cases every day. As a reminder, when we write ‘cases’ this refers to the total of all registered new cases, regardless of whether or not they are recorded as ‘symptomatic’. This is because the standard for classification as ‘symptomatic’ seems to be the symptoms more typically associated with the now extinct Alpha and Delta variants. Moreover, by the time people test PCR positive and get asked about symptoms, many no longer have any. For the dominant Omicron variants, these are typically sore throat, coughing and sometimes fever. Some only get the coughing. Objectively speaking, these are symptoms. Some people are truly asymptomatic, but the percentage is far lower than the official numbers.
Given that the incubation period for Omicron is estimated to be 3-5 days, since Sun Chunlan’s takeover, at least 4 infection cycles have taken place. During that period, total recorded case numbers are up approximately 20x. This hints that Sun Chunlan may indeed have succeeded in slowing the transmission rate down a bit from the estimated R0 of 10. R0 reflects how many additional people on average each infected person infects. In other words, by shutting down the Shanghai economy, imprisoning most of the Shanghai population and obliterating ~300 billion yuan worth of production1, it’s conceivable that she succeeded in slowing down the spread and thus extending the length of the outbreak.
Shanghai Political Rumbles
When Sun Chunlan sidelined the Shanghai government at the end of March, besides bringing in her own team to run the Shanghai health department, she also brought in her own software: the “PCR Test Code” (“核算码”) from Liaoning province. This replaced Shanghai’s homemade Health Cloud (“健康云”) software.
This past week the Shanghai health department switched back to its own Health Cloud system. Is that a hint that Sun Chunlan’s grip on Shanghai is weakening? It’s one possible interpretation.
According to another rumor, Shanghai’s current top two political figures, Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang (李强) and Shanghai Mayor Gong Zheng (龚正) are both scheduled to be sacked, with the new appointees taking office on May 1st. The new Shanghai Party Secretary will allegedly be Ding Xuexiang (丁薛祥). Ding Xuexiang previously served on Xi Jinping’s staff in Shanghai during his short term as Shanghai Party Secretary and is now on his staff in Beijing.
Various pictures have been circulating of dabai (the costumed figures in white suits with blue stripes) driving around with piles of large green fence-like pieces. According to various reports, these have been used to fence in some “high risk” compounds and individual households.
Presumably Sun Chunlan wants to use these green strips of metal to keep the virus at bay. What the people inside are supposed to do in case of a fire is unclear. Some were allegedly dismantled again by angry residents.
More on that story can be found here.
Not to be forgotten
For those who didn’t click on this link we shared several days ago in the Tragedy & Hope article, it’s an important reminder that many Shanghainese suffered far harder fates than those who spent the past month at home. Most of them are migrant workers and they should not be forgotten.
Here is the link to one of their stories published by Sixth Tone:
Update: Beijing’s Haidian District just announced that mass PCR tests will start tomorrow April 26th.
According to China’s national statistics office, Shanghai GDP in 2021 was 4.32 trillion yuan.