11/23/2022, 12.36
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Protests multiply against Xi Jinping's 'zero-Covid' policy

The situation is still tense at Foxconn in Zhengzhou, the world's leading iPhone assembler. About 412 million Chinese are in lockdown. Contagions are also on the rise in Beijing. International Monetary Fund: China's year-end growth forecast at 3.2%; recommended strengthening of vaccination campaign to reverse negative trend.


Beijing (AsiaNews) - Protests against Xi Jinping's draconian policy of zeroing out the Covid-19 are multiplying across the country. Pictures are circulating on social media of what appear to be Foxconn workers in Zhengzhou (Henan) as they break down barriers and clash with guards in protective suits demanding payment of their wages. Last month staff from the company, the world's largest iPhone assembler, fled the factory on foot to escape Covid-19 quarantine.

The loosening of health restrictions announced by the government last week are already a distant memory. Many Chinese cities are reporting spikes in the number of infections, prompting the authorities to immediately return to lockdowns, quarantines and mass swabbing.

The capital is also affected, where the authorities have closed down shopping centres, parks and museums, as well as entire neighbourhoods, and imposed traffic restrictions. The situation is also critical in Shanghai, but especially in Chongqing and Guangzhou (Guangdong), where the highest number of infections are recorded.

According to Nomura, as of 21 November, about 412 million Chinese were in lockdown, up from 340 million the week before. The number of infections nationwide is over 28,000.

Measures to contain the pandemic have become a socio-economic problem. In recent weeks, Guangzhou has seen street demonstrations that were later obscured by the web. Significant protests have also taken place in Tibet, not forgetting those of the citizens of Shanghai, who were forced to quarantine in their homes in the spring and without food for days.

Even more sensational is the lone action of a protester who displayed banners critical of Xi in Beijing on the eve of the 20th Party Congress last month: the most blatant challenge to the regime since the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy movement. The police immediately arrested Peng Lifa, who became a web star with the nicknames 'bridge man', 'lone warrior' and 'brave man'.

On the economic front, the news is not good. Today, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published its forecast for the Chinese economy.

GDP growth at the end of 2022 is given as 3.2 per cent, far from Beijing's target of 5.5 per cent. An improvement to 4.4 per cent is expected for 2023, on the assumption, however, that the Chinese government starts to shelve the zero-covid policy in the second half of the year. The IMF pointed out that in order to achieve this, China would have to step up its so far unsuccessful vaccination campaign.

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