Yanzhong Huang

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Passengers at a Shanghai railway station during the travel rush ahead of Lunar New Year, January 16, 2023. Aly Song/Reuters

When I was a little boy in rural China, one of my happiest moments was seeing my dad getting off the ship from Shanghai, carrying the load of goods he had purchased for the Lunar New Year – also known as the Spring Festival.

At that time, my dad worked for a tailor factory in suburban Shanghai, and only returned home when the Lunar New Year was around the corner.

This, after all, is the most important festival in China, with roughly 4,000 years of history.

For hundreds of millions of migrant workers across China, the 2023 Lunar New Year – happening on January 22 – will be a particularly special celebration.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the weeks since Chinese authorities suppressed the anti-lockdown protests that began on November 25th, the “zero-covid” policy has been turned on its head. Under the pretext of following the democratic will, Chinese authorities have lurched from excessive caution to a hands-off approach.

Beijing is already experiencing a major outbreak. The rest of China is probably close behind and will face a massive wave in January. But because the government reversed its longstanding policy without a roadmap to reopening, undervaccinated elderly citizens have not been given enough time to get a booster shot. The result is likely to be more than a million deaths over the next few months– hundreds of thousands of them preventable.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un trabajador sanitario en un barrio de Shanghái en confinamiento. The New York Times

Los líderes de China están ante un dilema peligroso. Su obsesión por eliminar el coronavirus ha evitado que el país tenga las tasas pandémicas de mortalidad sufridas por otros países grandes, pero a un costo muy alto: el grave daño social y económico que condujo el pasado fin de semana a las protestas más grandes contra el gobierno en varias décadas.

La severa política de tolerancia cero contra la covid impulsada por el presidente Xi Jinping ya no es sostenible, y este se enfrenta a la difícil disyuntiva entre suavizar las restricciones, lo que podría provocar muertes en masa, y mantener un enfoque impopular que está llevando a la sociedad China al límite.…  Seguir leyendo »

A quarantine worker in a neighborhood in Shanghai under lockdown. The New York Times

China’s leaders are in a dangerous dilemma. Their obsession with eliminating the coronavirus has spared the country the pandemic death rates suffered by other major countries, but at a steep cost: severe social and economic pain that led last weekend to China’s biggest anti-government protests in decades.

The harsh zero-tolerance Covid policy championed by President Xi Jinping is no longer sustainable, and he faces a difficult choice between easing up on Covid restrictions, which could cause mass deaths, or clinging to an unpopular approach that is pushing Chinese society to a breaking point.

The government, apparently spooked by the rare demonstrations that took place in several cities, may be losing its resolve.…  Seguir leyendo »

Security staff at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, September 30, 2022. Florence Lo / Reuters

With COVID-19 increasingly tamed, governments across Asia have been winding down some of the world’s strictest control measures. In September, Taiwan announced that it was reopening its borders and phasing out its quarantine policies; South Korea lifted its outdoor mask mandate and scrapped mandatory COVID-19 testing for inbound travelers. On October 11, Japan will end a pre-departure test requirement for travelers who have received at least one vaccine booster and fully reopen its borders for the first time since 2020. Even Hong Kong, which for more than two years had emulated mainland China in maintaining stringent border controls, has decided to end all hotel quarantine requirements for international arrivals.…  Seguir leyendo »

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 »