China retaliates against COVID restrictions
By TAYLOR GREEN
China’s implementation of zero-Covid sparked mass protests from citizens in December of last year. These were the largest protests in 30 years and involved tens of thousands that looked to voice their opinions over the devastating economic and social impacts of China’s policy. The impacts to China on all fronts economically, politically, and socially with general discontent looming further validate the belief that the government did not use the time brought by zero Covid to properly prepare the population for opening via vaccination. These protests have seemingly reoriented the position of China’s president, Xi Jinping as he has now proceeded to cancel restrictions on travel. This has led to questions about the president’s authority in general.
The general position of nations to restrict Chinese migration is steeped in rational logic however, the pressures this could potentially place upon nations could be a cause for overturning the restriction. F, for those nations with fewer skilled workers and those that rely on Chinese intervention, the imposition of quarantines for outbound Chinese tourists could result in devastation to the many industries that China pioneers in.
In response to China’s zero-Covid policy u-turn, the president has been hit head-on with restrictions on Chinese citizens' travel movement specifically towards his relaxation of Chinese out and inbound travel restrictions. This has hurt and will continue hurting China’s expansionist plans specifically with regard to the nations that have rejected the liberty of Chinese travel. Such is the case for Ghana. Many workers of Chinese origin work for the benefit of the Chinese government and China’s overseas economic expansion is estimated to hold over 1 million Chinese residing in the African continent. With the restricted flow of entry for Chinese workers into Ghana, the migratory remittance industry for China may suffer. In Ghana, China looks to their bountiful manufacturing sector that has been built up in part through Chinese TNC investment of up to $2.8 billion. This can hardly be maintained without the natural flow of workers and further weakens their stake in a nation that China has built a great friendship for over 60 years.
China also has long-standing relationships with other nations that are rejecting many Chinese citizens. This will ultimately hurt partnerships with other countries, in prominence, fellow BRICS nation, India. Diplomacy has become important for China to cement its world reputation and enhance its power and prosperity. These restrictions against travel impose upon the duopoly of gaining power and prosperity, which has the potential to tarnish China’s diplomatic ties with its international allies. Politically and economically, China is reliant upon these nations and therefore has to remain cautious. However, in the same sense, these nations are interdependent upon China in market trade as well as major investment therefore it is entirely possible for China to stay persuasive enough for nations to reconsider their restrictive stance towards Chinese migration.
Amidst the Covid hullabaloo, nations have also begun seeing China as an assertive power with recent abrasive foreign policy implementations following Xi Jinping’s presidency and increased territorial disputes. This further alienates China from the world as it did before China’s 1978 Open Door policy. China with its assertive expansionist policies takes Asia back in time to time of tension and potential conflict.
Nations that are rejecting China’s restrictions are entirely rational in their scepticism over China’s very quick decision to suddenly allow free travel of Chinese citizens. Further scepticism may come from China’s reaction to the rejection and scrutiny of letting only Chinese citizens who pass PCR testing. Many nations rejecting the flow have less sophisticated health industries with fewer health professionals per person and poor immunity to disease in general. Therefore these nations are naturally cautious to allow entry for masses of foreign workers residing in a nation that is still harbouring and dealing quite severely with the effects of a deadly virus that has led to the total deaths of over 6 million individuals and an unforeseen spike of 84 deaths in one day on the 9th January. This is in tandem with the rise of a new variant X BB. 1.5 which is purported to be highly contagious.
In many African nations, the poorest individuals live in close proximity to one another and many are impoverished and therefore susceptible to disastrous effects from the virus. Patents and Western access to medical technology have further placed a barrier between those on the continent receiving adequate treatment due to the sheer cost of vaccines due to patents. This has further created a neo-colonial strain upon these nations that keep them interdependent upon former colonial nations but unwilling to risk the acceptance of Chinese workers in mass.
Image: Unsplash /Lukas Souza