Foreigners leave China: Beijing’s strict Covid policy meets with anger

Et is Friday afternoon and the Liu Haisu Art Museum in Shanghai is to celebrate the “cultural relations and friendship” between China and Germany. The cultural department of the German consulate has put together an impressive exhibition on the subject of time. The works of art that have been created in the past two years were created by artists from both countries. But at the opening of their exhibition, the Germans are only marginal objects. The faces of the three women remain silent on a monitor on the side. They haven’t received a visa to enter China, as have most non-Chinese since the pandemic started.

Just as the German artists are not allowed to speak, the director of the museum also avoids the word “Covid”, but the German Consul General addresses the elephant in the room and speaks of the “challenges” that German-Chinese relations are facing two years after the start of the pandemic are exposed. Every foreigner in the area knows what this means: For two years now, the People’s Republic has only been issuing entry visas after a nerve-wracking procedure only to those who can prove that they are doing an important job there for tax authorities and local employees. Artists are not included.

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The reason for this can be seen almost every evening in the main news on state television, where a far less sensitive picture of Germany is drawn than in the exhibition in the Liu Haisu Museum. In front of the blue light of ambulances that stop in front of German hospitals with screeching tires and unload infected people who are groaning under oxygen masks, the most recent catastrophic Covid statistics in the Federal Republic of Germany are explained to the audience using bar charts: “67,186 new infections and 446 deaths in a single day.”

The much larger China, on the other hand, reported only 96 new infections and zero deaths on Thursday. According to official statistics, only 4,636 people have died from it since the virus outbreak in Wuhan, 4 percent of the number of Covid deaths reported by Germany. Ten days ago, Peking University published a study by mathematicians, according to which a “colossal outbreak” with 640,000 new infections per day, which would have a “devastating effect” on the health system and the country in, was to be expected if China’s borders were opened would lead to a “disaster”.

The mood among foreigners is changing

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the National Disease Control Center, estimates the number of deaths at 950,000 if China abandons its strict zero-Covid strategy while the omicron variant of the virus spreads around the world. The number of international flights shows how tightly the state subsequently kept the borders closed. There are now 200 per week. Before the pandemic, it was 9090 – a decrease of 98 percent. Because flights are also suspended if they had passengers infected with the virus on previous landings in the country, the number of connections to China is not increasing.

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Foreigners leave China: Beijing’s strict Covid policy meets with anger