Chinese Travel Stocks Surge In Response To Mass Protests

Early in the pandemic ‘getting Covid later’ versus getting it right away made sense. We didn’t know what we were dealing with. It was better to delay until there were treatments and vaccines, and better to preserve hospital capacity. But what mattered is what you did with that time.

The U.S. and U.K. developed functional vaccines and treatments. China’s Sinovac Coronavac vaccine barely worked against the ancestral Wuhan strain. Most of China remained immunologically naive to the virus, especially as it mutated. The only end game was Xi’s re-election at the 20th People’s Congress. China didn’t use the time to prepare itself. Though they’d licensed BioNTech’s mRNA vaccine for domestic production, it was never authorized for use.

China began to liberalize restrictions once Xi Jinping was elected to an unprecedented third time. But it faced a surge in cases, and new lockdowns.

And now the regime faces mass protests across the country, including in Beijing, over its lockdown policies.

A key instigator was a fire that killed locked down residents – people who couldn’t escape because they were locked inside of their building.

It’s not clear what will happen as a result of the protests.

  • they could fizzle on their own
  • they could be crushed by the Chinese state
  • they could (much less likely) lead to real regime change

To succeed protests need to be seen broadly, which is why Chinese censorship is so important but word does seem to be getting out. They also need to take place without repercussion. People need to see fellow citizens ‘getting away with it’ speaking truth to power and not suffering as a result. Then the protests can build on themselves and overwhelm.

It seems the first outcome, though, is most likely. The third is least likely. The moment at which social movements do succeed it, though, always comes as a surprise. Chinese stock markets are predicting at least a loosening of Covid restrictions.

Never forget that last year Marriott’s CEO described Chinese Covid policy as “a great road map for other markets around the world”. The problem of course is that while nearly every other country has a wall of immunity from vaccination and prior infection, relaxing restrictions risks overwhelming hospitals there. China risks losing face, that its lockdowns throughout the pandemic have been for no purpose (other than averting crisis prior to Xi’s re-election). They desperately need to roll out better vaccines, and to ramp up domestic production of antivirals.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. The National People’s Congress that will “elect” new leaders (to a new term) isn’t until March 2023. Xi was elected last month to a 3rd term as CCP leader. Now there is doubt whether he’ll finish his 2nd term as PRC president.

  2. Not sure how China is going to handle a re-opening, with a virus-naive population. The zero-Covid policy was a good short-term idea, but now, it’s backfiring.

    I own stock in 2 companies in Singapore, UOVEY and ACDSF. Singapore is a great place for investment (for one, no taxing on foreign investors) because it’s a liaison between China and the rest of Asia and the world. In bad times, the ‘rich’ Chinese move their money from China to Singapore, and thus, the world. In good times the Chinese move their money from China to Singapore, and thus, the world. Win/win situation. BTW, both of my holdings are up substantially.

  3. It takes an awful lot to tip over a regime. Even in the American Revolution roughly a third of the people sat it out and another third were sympathetic or actively on the side of the British. The 1917 Russian revolutions happened after sheer desperation from the effects of World War I’s disastrous conduct and the idiocy of the royal family, and the French (1789) and German (1918) ones were in part based on severe food shortages. So the PRC is unlikely to reach that point unless the police and military turn against the government, which they won’t. That said, the current policy is impossible. I don’t know what Beijing was thinking that this could go on indefinitely. They’re not dealing with an isolated peasant society; the people saw the World Cup crowds happily mixing without restrictions. And you can’t hide forever from a worldwide virus that is here to stay.

  4. Marriott Bonvoy is offering: Pay for 1 night in any Marriott in China, get three nights free barricaded in your room. *Room service extra.

  5. It only takes a population that has “nothing to lose” to create the conditions for revolution.
    If you have the choice of burning to death locked up in your home or break-out and protest you, might as well do the latter.
    It is not different than the Arab Spring revolutions were people had the choice of doing nothing and starve to death, or go out and protest.

  6. While the Chinese population may have no resistance to Covid, presumably they have the same variants as the rest of the world which are less deadly than the original Wuhan strain.

    Re: Gary Leff and the People’s Republic of China (PRC)

    Gary Leff is of American nationality and although well-traveled and educated, does not have any particular connection to the politics, government, or culture of the PRC. On the topic at hand he is emphatically not an expert and has the exact same biases and blind spots shared by the general populace of educated Americans (defined as college degree holders with enough disposable income to partake in exactly the types of travel activities described on this blog).

    The fact is if you’re an American, you are grounded in very different values and baseline worldviews compared to a country that is literally on the other side of the world. The fact Gary Leff doesn’t speak Chinese, and the fact he bemoans pro-PRC language in his comments as coming from state actors, underscores the point that he does not know anything about this situation he is writing about.

    The PRC is the next great superpower. Period. Ancient Greece, Rome, the United States, all had their moments. It is China’s time. For Americans, please understand that American exceptionalism is no longer a relevant concept.

  8. Now I sit and wait for all the white supremacist commenters to come out of the woodwork. Hey Jackson Waterson, where have you been, haven’t heard from you in some time! Amy Fischer, how was your Thanksgiving KKK meetup?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.