The draconian lockdown of the world’s most populous nation ended Sunday when China reopened its borders after years of being virtually sealed.
The communist reaction to COVID-19 included requiring incoming travelers to quarantine, a drastic measure that largely cut the country off from the rest of the world.
Even with Hong Kong, land and sea crossings came to a near standstill as Beijing tried to prevent contact with its 1.4 billion population. But even the threat of government crackdowns did not prevent historic protests from breaking out all over the country.
And despite the government’s insistence that it would not alter policy over civilian unrest, the past month has seen exactly that. Restrictions on movement and mandatory frequent testing requirements eased, and cracks in the sweeping lockdown appeared.
Now those cracks in the government-imposed isolation are a flood.
— Cameron Darke in Laos (@CameronDarke) January 8, 2023
Long lines formed at Hong Kong’s international airport over the weekend as travelers raced to reach mainland cities such as Beijing, Tianjin, and Xiamen. Thousands were reported to be scrambling for flights northward.
Now it’s up to the world’s second-largest economy to find its footing again. Supply chains across the globe have been disrupted by the nearly three-year lockdown, and trade is still a long way from full recovery.
Many economic experts believe the reopening of the Chinese economy will provide a much-needed boost to the world’s financial situation. Many areas are dealing with energy and food shortages, and global recession remains a real possibility.
With the lack of communication from Beijing, the Chinese public had little advance warning that the sweeping restrictions were to fall by the wayside. But public pressure apparently led to positive results, and now it’s up to the authoritarian regime to undo the financial damage it created.
Growth was severely curtailed last year, profits tanked, and unemployment surged to record levels. Public frustration only intensified as the government doubled down on its restrictions.
There has already been a medical backlash as people were released from their homes and mass gatherings resumed. Some companies reportedly have had to shut down or curtail production over shortages of workers due to infections.
All this means is that the coronavirus, unlike in most of the rest of the world, was not able to run its course. A wave of new cases is predictable, and the Chinese economy is once again left to grapple with the mismanagement of its communist leadership.