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Even before the pandemic, handheld loudspeakers were popular in China for giving non-stop messages to the masses. Since the start of the Shanghai lockdown, however, a considerable amount of (real and fake) video clips featuring rather eerie loudspeaker announcements have emerged on the Internet: Creepy-looking robot “dogs” with stapled-on megaphones stalk abandoned city streets. Or drones, also equipped with megaphones, broadcast the following message from the night sky to people on balconies and at windows: “Please comply with Covid restrictions. Control your soul’s desire for freedom.”
The strict zero-covid policy of the Beijing government eats away at the nerves of the city’s residents – and also starts to become a problem for supply chains and production. Factories in Jiangsu, located on the border to Shanghai, also begin to feel the pain of the lockdown, reports Christiane Kuehl. Trans-regional transport is difficult and frustration among foreign companies grows. Besides disrupted operations, travel restrictions have been the worst measure, representatives of the EU Chamber and the German Chamber of Commerce told our author. After all, these mean: no factory visits, no business meetings and no trips home.
Apart from the Covid pandemic, climate change remains a pressing issue: China emits more methane than any other major economy. The gas emitted, for example, from coal mining and the cultivation of rice, has the same dramatic impact on climate change as CO2. Beijing has already rejected an international initiative to curb methane emissions. It prefers to pursue its own plans. Improved methane management would be a good start, analyzes Ning Wang. This way, China could even use this gas as an additional source of energy.
Zero covid: travel problems and disrupted supply chains
Companies across China are increasingly suffering from Omicron outbreaks in the country. Strict zero covid measures disrupt supply chains and production. Employees or logistics are practically overnight barred from entering factory premises. Or they are unexpectedly no longer allowed to cross city or district borders. And in Shanghai, there is the omnipresent fear of a positive Covid test and the resulting isolation in one of the city’s huge quarantine centers.
Restrictions have now been enforced throughout the country. Trans-regional transport is difficult because all areas classified as “medium risk” or “high risk” have to be avoided. If a driver passes through such an area, the health code on his smartphone automatically generates an asterisk, explains Jens Hildebrandt, Executive Board Member of the German Chamber of Foreign Trade (AHK) for North China. “That means the driver would then face quarantine at the next location – that is, wherever he exits the highway.”
Covid tests also delay cargo transports. “Containers are sometimes delayed for a month in ports or stuck in traffic jams at the border, for example between China and Kazakhstan, because of such tests,” Hildebrandt tells China.Table. The recipients of the goods – for example, a German company in China – are required to adhere to strict disinfection regulations. These include aseptic cleaning of all transport boxes as well as regular Covid tests of the staff responsible. “This regulation varies from province to province. In recent weeks, procedures have been tightened, especially in Jiangsu and Shandong provinces.” There, staff who sanitize goods have to stay separate from other staff members. The goal is to create a so-called “closed-loop” from which no pathogens can escape. Otherwise, the entire shipment would have to be quarantined at the recipient’s premises for ten days.