11 December 2022
President Xi Jinping has relaxed China’s Zero Covid policy.
One is reminded of King Canute, who wished to show his flatterers that there were limits to his power, so he took them to the seaside, planted his throne on the sand and commanded the tide to come in no further. Naturally it came in and his legs got wet.
President Xi Jinping recently made himself the most powerful man in China since Mao Zedong, but has also insisted on the Zero Covid policy.
As viruses evolve, they usually change to strains that are less lethal but more infectious, which helps them to spread. So trying to go back to zero was almost certainly impossible and the attempt was obviously disrupting Chinese society a lot. It may have been that while Xi was impregnable within the People’s Congress, if his Covid policies totally lost him support in the population change would still occur.
Relaxing the policy is likely to cause a big spike in infections. This will cause a lot of problems as older Chinese are less vaccinated- perhaps only two thirds, though 90% of younger people are. Older folk are therefore more likely to die, particularly as the Chinese vaccines are not quite as good as the Western ones.
From an Australian perspective the improvement in the Chinese economy is likely to help us. We rode through the last global recession, with the Government congratulating itself on our resilience and their wisdom, but the point was that our trade was principally with China, which was not having a recession. If China starts growing again, it may help us a lot. Hopefully this time, if things go well, we will take an opportunity, rather than just handing out tax cuts to the rich.