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Beijing citizens celebrate in fantastic May weather on what may be the last days before a lockdown. So far, many citizens have been left guessing if and when the lockdowns will come, as our Beijing team reports. But as always, the people of Beijing adapt quickly to the measures: Restaurants, for example, are simply putting tables out on the street as they are no longer allowed to serve indoors. Beijing registered 51 new cases on Wednesday. That is still a reassuringly low number. Another positive development is the news that China will slightly shorten quarantine periods for people entering the country.
The beautiful spring sun also benefits the energy supply, which is rapidly being transformed into renewable sources. Huge wind and photovoltaic plants are being built in the desert regions of the West. To protect the climate, the People’s Republic also relies heavily on nuclear power, which is also emission-free. Beijing has set itself enormous nuclear expansion goals for the coming decades. Nico Beckert analyzes why the expansion plans progress slower than planned and how China fares in the difficult search for a nuclear waste storage.
The People’s Republic is also a global leader in digitization in the mobility sector. The country’s tech-savvy customers demand high-tech in their cars, and especially in EVs for the future. German automakers are years behind their Chinese competitors, as Christian Domke Seidel analyzes. He explains how Volkswagen plans to remedy the situation in the Group’s largest single market with the help of its software subsidiary Cariad. CEO Diess wants Cariad to turn VW into a “software-driven mobility provider”.
Beijing’s last days in freedom?
Temperatures in Beijing climbed above 30 degrees for the first time this year in early May, and it shows in the cityscape. During the holidays, the city’s more popular gathering places are crowded with people. Like, for example, the shopping mile in the Sanlitun district, where stores are open as usual. About two dozen photographers stand on the shopping mile wildly snapping photos of every stylish-looking Beijing woman who strolls by – or even chase them with their video cameras drawn. A young, eccentrically dressed man in a hat and glasses draws attention with loud singing and dance moves. A young father films his daughter dancing with his cell phone. The video will probably end up on TikTok.
About 430 locally transmitted cases are reported for Beijing in total. The capital reported 51 new infections alone on Wednesday. Due to the high infection numbers, cafés and restaurants are no longer allowed to serve food indoors – but take-away and delivery services are still allowed. Shopping malls and stores were also allowed to remain open.
“Everything is the same as always,” says one Beijing resident. “You just can’t get into the café and have to find another place to sit.” So people sit close together on the few benches under the trees or move out onto the steps in front of Sanlitun’s large Apple Store. In their hands they hold cold or hot drinks and chat, or take selfies. Some wear masks, others don’t. On their shirts, most wear a dark purple sticker that reads “Taikooli”. The security guards of the shopping mall hand out this sticker to all those who showed a valid Covid test from the last 48 hours and a green “health code” when entering the plaza. Those wearing the sticker are then allowed to leave and re-enter the area freely – and do not need to prove again that they are Covid-free, even in stores.
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