China doesn’t seem likely to re-open air travel this year even though the year has 11 months left. They’ve pursued a Zero Covid strategy. There’s very little immunity in the Chinese population, and locally-grown vaccines don’t work very well. They still hasn’t approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine even though it’s being produced locally by Fosun Pharmaceuticals in Shanghai and being distributing to China’s Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
The country’s conservative stance seems likely to last at least through the Party Congress late in the year, where President Xi Jinping is expected to receive an unprecedented third term. Re-opening before that, with Covid-19 spreading, represents a risk to his re-election. While the virus originated in China, President Xi has staked his capital on a hard crackdown to protect the country from its effects.
Olympians Won’t See Tiananmen Square
Nonetheless, China is hosting the Winter Olympics, which brings foreigners into the country – and thus risk of importing the virus. China isn’t taking that threat likely.
For the thousands of athletes, journalists and others descending on Beijing for the Winter Olympics, China’s strict pandemic measures are creating a surreal and at times anxious experience.
China is isolating everyone coming from abroad from any contact with the general public for the duration of the Games, which open next week. That means being taken from the Beijing airport in special vehicles to a hotel surrounded by temporary barricades that keep participants in and the public out.
“I know the only experience of Beijing I’m going to experience is the Beijing I will see out of my bus window and my hotel window,” said Associated Press photo editor Yirmiyan Arthur, who arrived this week. “I’m not really going to experience China, I’m just going to experience the Olympics within the bubble.”
Chinese Covid Troops At Wuhan Airport
China is afraid of foreigners, but they also wouldn’t give up the international prestige of hosting the Olympics – even an Olympics that barely showcases the country.
(HT: Alex Tabarrok)