LONDON – In February 2020, the first cases of the mysterious flu that few knew how to identify started appearing in the western Chinese city of Wuhan.
The entire world looked at China for answers, receiving vague responses prompted by the secrecy policy of the Chinese state. The same secrecy and control are now seen in China’s most prominent economic center, Shanghai.
Many academics ‘accuse’ the Beijing government of often adopting a Machiavellian strategy. Thus, reaching the final goal by any means necessary.
The New Lockdown Is Limiting Growth: Not Just in Aviation, But Everywhere Else…
The goal, which has been successfully reached throughout the better part of this pandemic, was to implement and maintain a zero COVID policy.
The Machiavellian strategy showed its true (red) colors when the central government of Beijing imposed a city-wide lockdown in shanghai after the city recorded over 70,000 cases on the 1st of March.
While the rest of the world looks at “mandatory quarantine” and “lockdown” as lingo from the past, the Chinese reality tells us a different story.
When a lockdown is announced, every aspect of life is subject to re-dimensioning to meet the needs of local regulations.
We have all lived through this in 2020. Shops, restaurants, and clubs close while the once buzzing dance floors accumulate dust. Borders shut to non-essential travel, and quarantine was imposed on those brave enough to embark on the journey.
Lockdown is currently the norm in the shimmering commercial city of Shanghai, but this is not 2020. Almost two years have gone by, and most of the world has moved on.
The city counts for 4% of China’s GDP and has closed, and so has the arrival of passengers.
The local CDC had previously capped the arrival of international commercial aircraft to 75%. However, the new capacity restraint is at 40% because of the current lockdown.
European carriers might not respond so well to this news.
As Russian airspace continues to be sealed to airlines of ‘unfriendly countries’ due to the Ukrainian invasion, airlines must take more extended routes than usual. Shanghai entering a strict lockdown may lead airlines to suspend these routes indefinitely.
Shanghai’s CDC introduced this new limitation to relieve pressure on quarantine facilities that host both locals and passengers on arrival. This new measure will stay at least until the end of the month.
However, it is not only foreign airlines to be hit by the latest wave of restrictions; local carriers like Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines, and China Eastern have been ordered to reduce and rotate the schedule so that each carrier will fly between the pair of cities once every three weeks.
Protests on the horizon
For most of the pandemic, the central government stifled domestic criticism with censorship, arrests, and strict regulations. This time around, lowering the voices is proving more difficult than expected.
The city of 25 million people has seen food shortages, and people go without non-Covid medical care in the first ten days since a lockdown started.
Moreover, this was only when the city’s eastern side was locked down. Unlike many cities in China, Shanghai is home to a vibrant middle class, a wealthy elite, and a large share of foreign-educated Chinese live in the city.
As a result, residents of Shanghai have the highest disposable income per capita, which is the highest in the country.
Even in a country where protesting and having one’s voice heard is dangerous, many locals have found ways to express dissent over the latest regulations.
Many critics and those who secretly dissent from the central government worry that with the latest imposture of restrictions, the city will fall into an economic crisis, and as a result, the rest of China will suffer too.
Mandated Quarantine in Chinese government-run facilities, excessive control, and limited personal freedom will isolate Shanghai and Hong Kong while the rest of the world moves forward and dismantles regulations.
The New York Times columnist recently reported how this crisis is more than just a public health challenge. It is the adoption of zero approach tolerance at large, not only for COVID cases.
A glance at RadarBox tells us the accurate tale of one of China’s once busiest airports. With only a few and widespread domestic arrivals, the future of Pudong International is now in the hands of the central government in Beijing.