Shanghai Lockdown: End in Sight?

Shanghai Lockdowns Continue For the Third Week

What was supposed to be a strategic staggered lockdown over one week has now ballooned out into an intense, nearly month-long exercise in city-wide shutdowns and daily covid testing. Up to this point, China’s 0 covid policy has been very effective, with the first officially recorded deaths coming earlier this week. All three deaths were unvaccinated seniors with preexisting medical conditions. However, many are starting to wonder if the success of these measures is worth their steep cost to citizens. Unemployment is up and consumer spending is down in the city of over 25 million, but the concern of most residents lies more so in their ability to access essential services and goods.

The Unrest

Two weeks ago we looked at the increasing complaints on social media from local residents saying that crucial supplies like food and medicine were becoming harder to get a hold of. These complaints continued over the last two weeks and began to spill out into the streets of Shanghai. There were both organized protests and unexpected clashes between residents and police over not only the lack of resources but also the forcible removal of some citizens from their rental apartments. Footage surfaced online of police forcefully removing residents from their homes in order to convert the space into a quarantine area.

Shanghai Lockdown
A screenshot form video of police in full personal protective equipment clashing with protestors in Shanghai – more on this at CNN “Hunger and Anger in Shanghai”

Protests of any kind are a rare sight in China and a sudden upcropping has brought attention from both Chinese citizens and the international press. However, even civil unrest has not made China’s leadership waver in their 0 covid stance.

End in Sight?

Over the weekend authorities in the city announced that they were targetting a goal of no community transmission outside of quarantine centers by Wednesday, April 20th. This is an aggressive target, as on Saturday there were still 722 cases of community transmission found outside quarantine areas.

Officials are also fighting an uphill battle when it comes to vaccination, with some at-risk populations registering fully vaccination rates of around two-thirds, and only around 30% of at-risk populations receiving a booster. However, officials are taking some steps to ease restrictions as they take a more targeted approach and attempt to ease the pressure off the economy. Officials have allowed some manufacturers to create bubbles in their workplaces where staff will be allowed to resume working so long as they stay o the premises, isolated from those outside of the workplace. Some auto manufacturers in the area, including Tesla and VW manufacturing partners, have opted for this plan and should be resuming production this week.

The hope for many now is that authorities will begin to ease restrictions on truckers and port workers in order to help alleviate the current backlog of ships pictured below. Hundreds of ships waiting to berth at Shanghai port and other ports in the surrounding area, some waiting since the beginning of the shut down – we posted details about this three weeks ago.

Where we go From Here

Even if the lockdown measures go well, it might not be all positive as factories ramp back up and transportation in and out of the city becomes easier. Experts are warning of the danger of an oncoming rubber band effect in areas importing from China, similar to the one that affected US west coast ports last year. Although over the next few weeks ports importing from China may have time to catch up on the previous backlog due to the lul in containers, it’s likely that the oncoming tsunami of freight that will move once the end of the lockdown will be worse than the onslaught of cargo that hit ports after restrictions lifted early last year.

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