The Beijing International Film Festival scheduled to begin today has been indefinitely postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.
Approximately 583 new cases were reported in 25 Chinese cities last week alone, motivating Beijing to reimpose travel restrictions and lockdown measures.
Before the outbreak, China had nearly halted the spread of the virus, reporting under 20 cases per day throughout most of 2020 due to its “Covid Zero” policies: closed borders, lockdowns, and testing of entire cities. These policies, however, have isolated China from the world. When one employee contracted COVID-19 at China’s Ningbo-Zhoushan Port, the third busiest in the world, Beijing shut it down, causing global supply chain disruptions. Border closures have also damaged China’s blossoming tourism industry. Although China’s economy can sustain isolation temporarily, Covid Zero will hurt the domestic economy. Lockdowns will hamper consumer spending, and mass testing will force provinces into fiscal deficits.
Despite these concerns, expect Beijing to continue its Covid Zero policies in the short-term to safeguard February’s Beijing Olympics—an important display of soft power. Long-term, China cannot avoid new, contagious COVID-19 variants, which will force them to shift from Covid Zero policies to more economically sustainable policies that involve safely co-existing with the virus.
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Ava is an Analyst and regular contributor to the Daily Brief. She focuses on political and economic developments across Latin America and the Caribbean.