The great Zero Covid escape: Defiant Shanghai residents break out of their own homes after being imprisoned under discredited policy – amid warnings Chinese economy is in the ‘worst shape in 30 years’ thanks to crackdown
- Brave Shanghainese knock down metal fences built to trap them in lockdown
- Shared clip of fallen mesh wall is captioned: ‘Actions speak louder than words’
- Shanghai has gone through world’s toughest lockdown for nearly a month
- Hazmat-clad workers drill doors of a restaurant shut to stop diners from leaving
- Children forced to wear full PPE suits to school; robot dogs patrol empty streets
- Around 180million Chinese are in lockdown – 25million in largest city Shanghai
- In one city, 5.6million must test as one case found in mad pursuit of Zero Covid
- Economy tanks to ‘worst shape in 30 years’ as financial centre ‘semi-paralysed’
- Xi ally and investor tells private meeting China is ‘semi-paralysed’ by ‘deep crisis’
Residents of Shanghai who were fenced into their homes by Communist officials as part of China’s draconian Zero Covid policy have staged a break out, video posted to social media showed today.
The clip shows the metal fences built along a residential street to trap homeowners indoors have been brought down.
Shared via state-approved messaging service WeChat, the video from financial district Pudong was reportedly captioned: ‘Actions speak louder than words.’
Covid cases are still rising in China as the ruling Communist bureaucracy attempts to stick to its Zero Covid policy designed to eliminate the virus – despite experts’ warnings that the Omicron variant makes it impossible to contain cases with lockdowns.
Shanghai recorded about 15,000 cases on Thursday, accounting for the vast majority nationwide, despite weeks of the world’s strictest lockdown measures.
And millions more Chinese citizens are set to be subjected to draconian Covid restrictions as the sprawling capital Beijing prepares to go into lockdown
President Xi reaffirmed his commitment to a “zero-COVID” policy on Friday, putting China at odds with much of the world. While many countries are dropping restrictions and trying to live with the virus, China is keeping its international borders largely shut and closing off entire cities to all but essential travel.
The Chinese Politburo acknowledged the economic cost of lockdowns, saying efforts must be made to “minimize the impact of the epidemic on economic and social development,” the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Despite the toll on the economy and everyday life, the zero-COVID approach is extolled by the Communist Party as a virtuous display of self-sacrifice under the slogan “Persistence is victory.”
However there are increasing concerns over the impact on the Chinese economy, with top Hong Kong private equity investor Weijian Shan today warning China is in its worst shape for 30 years.
Breaking barriers: brave residents in Pudong, Shanghai have taken down the metal fences
Mr Shan also told a private meeting Shanghai has been ‘semi-paralysed’ by ‘draconian’ rules.
Leading investor and Xi ally Weijian Shan (pictured in India two years ago) said Shanghai’s lockdown is ‘draconian’ and has left the financial centre ‘semi-paralysed’
He said: ‘We think the Chinese economy at this moment is in the worst shape in the past 30 years.
‘I also think popular discontent in China is at the highest point in the past 30 years’, the FT reported.
‘[We face] a deep economic crisis.’
Mr Shan’s striking comments signal growing unhappiness among Chinese elites.
If ultra-strict Covid measures have so far failed to provoke a response, their economic impact certainly has.
Shanghai is not only China’s financial centre but the world’s busiest shipping port and a lynchpin for global trade.
The PGA boss said on behalf of his group: ‘China feels to us like the US and Europe in 2008.
Covid protection guards were pictured erecting metal barriers outside people’s homes in financial district Pudong, Shanghai overnight at the weekend
‘While we remain long-term confident in China’s growth and market potentials, we are very cautious towards China markets.’
Shanghai officials are in pursuit of what they call ‘zero Covid at a community level’, which entails no new infections outside tightly locked down districts.
Though it carefully censors the web, China’s government has also struggled to keep a lid on disaffection with the Zero Covid plan.
Fences are pictured outside people’s homes, cutting them off from their vehicles. But some fences (right) look easy enough to navigate around
An estimated 180million Chinese are in lockdown despite relatively low infection rates.
Draconian measures in Shanghai have only tightened, with children told to walk to school in hazmat suits and diners trapped in a restaurant after the doors were drilled shut.
Metal fences were erected in financial district Pudong over the weekend.
Buildings where cases were found have had entrances sealed up, with a small opening for Covid prevention guards to pass through.
‘This is so disrespectful of the rights of the people inside, using metal barriers to enclose them like domestic animals,’ said one Weibo user.
Another video showed residents shouting from balconies at workers as they set up fencing. The workers relented and took it away. Other videos showed people trying to pull fences down.
‘Isn’t this a fire hazard?’ commented another Weibo user.
Many of the fences were erected around compounds designated ‘sealed areas’ – buildings where at least one person tested positive for Covid.
In these apartments, residents are forbidden from leaving their front doors under any circumstances.
It’s not clear what prompted authorities to resort to fencing as Shanghai recorded several days of falling cases.
A notice dated Saturday from one local authority shared online said it was imposing ‘hard quarantine’ in some areas, Reuters reported.
They have since ticked up to just under 10,000 on Thursday, the first rise in six days.
Authorities also reclassified 5,062 previously counted asymptomatic patients as symptomatic, the highest amount of patients with Covid symptoms for a week.
Meanwhile Beijing reported just 49 new cases on Thursday, down from 50 on Wednesday.
The city has nevertheless implemented a mass testing programme for millions of residents.
Schools in the capital are set to go for their holidays early – and currently have no return date.
In southern trade hub Guangzhou, mass testing was launched for nearly a third of its 19million residents after a single ‘abnormal’ test result was detected at the airport.
Over 80 per cent of flights have since been cancelled.
The announcement came after eastern city Hangzhou ordered 9.4million to get tested every 48 hours in order to use public spaces and transport.
The aim is ‘that the virus has nowhere to hide or settle’, the city government said in a statement, raising fears of further restrictions across a city home to some of China’s biggest companies.
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