Yanzhong Huang

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Disinfecting a residential area in Shanghai, April 2022. Aly Song / Reuters

Two and a half years into the pandemic, China is rapidly losing its battle to maintain its “zero COVID” goal. The government’s total lockdown of Shanghai, its largest city and financial hub, has created economic chaos and engendered social backlash from tens of millions of residents who have been prevented from going outside, even to obtain food or to seek health care. Despite such protocols, the government was unable to prevent hundreds of thousands of new cases from emerging in the city during the lockdown, while causing much unnecessary hardship and suffering. Now a similar problem threatens the capital itself. Unwilling to acknowledge the changing nature of the virus, the Chinese government continues to claim that it can outrace the virus through extreme containment measures, even amid growing popular discontent.…  Seguir leyendo »

China Doesn’t Want to ‘Live With’ Covid. But It May Have To

“How lucky I was born in China”, a young Chinese scholar declared last month in his WeChat. He was proud: Following the worst domestic Covid-19 outbreak since Wuhan, China had brought daily new case counts down to a few dozen.

The case numbers — when contrasted with the United States, which has less than a quarter of China’s population yet daily average cases above 130,000 — might not seem too concerning on their own. But they illustrate that China’s zero-infections policy is no longer working as designed. At the outset of the pandemic, the policy successfully drove down cases — and was adopted by other countries — but the Delta variant changed the game and shows that this strategy no longer fits.…  Seguir leyendo »

Face masks were ubiquitous at the Hankou railway station in Wuhan, China, which is at the center of a coronavirus outbreak that has killed at least 17 people. Credit Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images

On Sunday, a friend of mine in China wrote an ominous, two-word post on WeChat: “Broke out.” He meant that a mysterious surge in cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, a city in central China, was, in fact, an outbreak of something more serious.

The first case of the Wuhan virus was detected on Dec. 12. Until last Thursday, only 45 cases, with two deaths, all in Wuhan, had been reported, and no health care workers were said to have been infected. The virus was mild, we were told then, with no evidence of human-to-human transmission; all confirmed cases seemed to originate from a food market where live animals are sold.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why China’s Good Environmental Policies Have Gone Wrong

As my plane was landing in Beijing in mid-December, I realized I had forgotten to bring my N95 respirator mask, and instantly regretted it. But that day turned out to be clear, if chilly. A Chinese public-health expert later told me that it was no exception: There were far fewer days of smog in 2017 than just a couple of years ago.

Terrific, I thought — until I came to understand the unintended costs of the dramatic improvement in the capital’s air quality.

To reduce the levels of hazardous particles known as PM2.5, the Chinese authorities started a major campaign in 2013 to convert coal-generated heating to gas or electric heating.…  Seguir leyendo »

An April report by China’s national broadcaster CCTV detailed the manufacturing process followed by 16 companies that sell preserved fruit. It made the meat-packing methods described by Upton Sinclair in “The Jungle” a century ago seem pale by comparison.

Rotten peaches pickled in outdoor pools surrounded by garbage are spiked with sodium metabisulfite to keep the fruit looking fresh and with bleaching agents and additives harmful to the human liver and kidneys. The peaches are packed in uncleaned bags that previously held animal feed and then shipped off to big-brands stores.

Toxic preserved fruit is the latest item on China’s expanding list of unsafe food products.…  Seguir leyendo »