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Zero-Covid Policy – No Sign of Changing Course

As more cities in China brace for a possible lockdown, the Chinese Communist leadership shows no sign of changing the course of its zero-COVID policy.

On May 6, the CCP in Shanghai held a mobilization meeting to, “Resolutely Win the Great Shanghai Defense War.” The CCP Shanghai Secretary Li Qiang asked “military orders to be issued at every level.” Shanghai Mayor Gong Zheng requested that every building, street and door must be checked in Pudong New District, Xuhui District, and Minhang District so that not one household is missed. The Mayor of Pudong New Area ordered that “even if one is smashed, he must complete the task.” Experts believe that this move was driven by political considerations and has no bearing on public health.

On May 7, CCP Shanghai Secretary Li Qiang inspected Jiading District. He reiterated the rhetoric. “The top priority is to reduce new cases and prevent rebound.” He called on people to “grit their teeth, stick it out, and resolutely win the battle of Shanghai’s defense.”

On the same day, the Xuhui District issued an emergency notice. From May 1 through 15, all residents must stay at home except for going out to have COVID testing. The community will stop accepting group purchases and express delivery. If a resident has placed an order, he must cancel or postpone the delivery time until after May 15. In addition, the authorities will suspend food distribution for those who do not participate in the COVID testing of them. The neighborhood committee will no longer issue exit permits to anyone to leave the community.

Earlier, a neighborhood committee in Pudong District issued a notice stating that it had received an order from above that if one has tested positive, all the residents on the entire floor would become “positive contacts” and “all the residents above and below the floor where the positive case occurs will be transferred and quarantined.”

Source: Epoch Times, May 8, 2022

https://www.epochtimes.com/gb/22/5/8/n13729974.htm

Sharp Drop in Travel during China’s Qingming Festival Due to Covid-19 Flare-up

A recent COVID-19 flare-up and the authorities’ lockdown policy have depressed travel and tourism during the Qingming Festival from April 2 to 4. The Qingming Festival, also called Tomb Sweeping Day in China, is a time to remember and pay respect to ancestors.

 

According to China’s Ministry of Transportation, on April 5, 53.781 million traveled by railway, highway, waterway, and air combined during the Qingming Festival holiday, a sharp drop of 62.7 percent compared year on year with 2021.

 

Among those who traveled, those who  chose to use the railways fell by 83.7 percent compared with the same period in 2021. Travel by highways declined by 53.2 percent; trips via waterways were down by 77.0 percent, and air travel was down by 87.0 percent.

 

According to China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism data center, 75.419 million domestic trips took place across the country during the three-day festival, a year-on-year decrease of 26.2 percent. Domestic tourism revenue was estimated to be around 18.78 billion yuan, a decline of 30.9 percent, year on year.

 

Sources: 

Jiamian, April 6, 2022

https://www.jiemian.com/article/7298725.html

China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, April 6, 2022

http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2022-04/06/content_5683589.htm

Transitioning from Forced Abortions to Forced Births?

As China’s population crisis worsens, the Communist regime announced that it will intervene in the area of abortions among unmarried people.

The China Family Planning Association under the Chinese Communist Party of China released a directive titled, “China Family Planning Association’s Priorities for 2022.” It requires the development of special actions for abortion intervention among unmarried people to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions among adolescents. In the past, the family planning agency enforced the one-child policy by forcing abortions.

According to media reports, the number of China’s annual abortions has hovered around 9.5 million over the past five years. This number came from an article published in 2021 in the Chinese Journal of Practical Gynecology and Obstetrics.

Separately, the Institute of Science and Technology under China’s National Health Commission conducted a survey in 2021 of 39,820 women who had abortions. Women under 25 who had abortions accounted for 47.5 percent. Other studies have shown that women under 20 who have abortions are becoming a significant portion  of those women who have abortions.

This comes as China is facing a demographic crisis after its birthrate has fallen for the fifth consecutive year.  Fewer babies were born in 2021 than during the Great Famine between 1959 and 1961. Beijing has directed governments at all levels to find ways to stop the population problem from worsening. The priorities issued by the China Family Planning Association have sparked concerns that women may be forced to give birth. It is estimated that there were 400 to 600 million abortions during the one-child policy between 1980 and 2015.

Sources:
1.) The China Family Planning Association, January 28, 2022
https://www.chinafpa.org.cn/tzgg/202201/t20220128_45623.html

2.)The Paper, February 9, 2022
https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_16629651

Facing the Real World: China’s Law Professor Was Censored

Within less than two hours of posting, China’s social media WeChat removed a 6000-word post by Lao Dongyan, a law professor at “China’s MIT,” Qinghua University. The title of the posting was, “Facing the Real World.” In 2016, Lao was awarded as The Most Influential Young Scholar in China in the area of the Humanities and Social Sciences. In the posting, Lao reviewed 2021 and looked forward to 2022. She did not mention the CCP leaders.

What did she say that led to the ban?

Lao stated, “In a society full of ‘positive energy’ discourse, the sense of uneasiness spreads like a tidal wave throughout society. The pursuit of freedom is often the subject of ridicule. People are increasingly indifferent to, or they even welcome, the increasing concentration of power and the stepping up of various kinds of control in the name of security, and the tightened rule over society using the technology of big data tracking.”

She continued, “Nearly all the catastrophes of the 20th century were caused by institutional evil. The darkness of human nature compounded by an evil system has repeatedly led to unimaginable tragedies.”  “Be prepared to be interviewed if you publish a diary documenting your daily life under the epidemic. If you show solidarity with a colleague who was expelled for his classroom speech, you may even face the experience of ‘being mentally ill.’”

Lao wrote that her “original intention to promote the rule of law in China has turned out to be pure wishful thinking.” She noted that today the theoretical vision of the rule of law and the actual practice of the rule of law are increasingly running in opposite directions. “What is even more absurd about this is that many of those who have been put in chains are not only not angry about losing their freedoms but they are actually quite comfortable with it. They are like frogs being boiled in increasingly warm water.” “It can be said that many people, including myself, choose just to bear it and retreat, thereby enabling evil people to continue to do evil with impunity. In a sense, we are responsible by our passive inaction and for the deterioration of our environment since we choose to tolerate it and even beat a retreat in the face of it.”

Finally, facing the real world, Lao concluded with a quote from J.K. Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard University. “If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself being in the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change.’ In my opinion, this is the real ‘positive energy.’ May you and I have such ‘positive energy.’”

Source: China Digital Times, January 29, 2022

【404文库】劳燕东飞|直面真实的世界

Full text of English translation, https://gaodawei.wordpress.com/2022/01/29/2022-chinese-law-profs-lament-and-encouragement/

China’s Residential Foreclosures Are Spiking

Chinascope recently reported that 200,000 people in China stopped making their mortgage payments (See:  http://chinascope.org/archives/28823).  On January 14, 2022, Professor Han Fuling from the School of Finance of the Central University of Finance and Economics posted on Weibo, “At the beginning of 2022, the four major banks sued 200,000 owners for defaulting on their mortgages.” Weibo has since removed the posting.  The four major banks are the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, the Bank of China, and the Construction Bank.

Since the beginning of 2022, there has been more news about defaults and foreclosures of residential houses in China.

All Foreclosure Auctions are well-known online auction platforms in China.  As of January 30, 2022, 1.72 million court-ordered foreclosures of residential houses were placed on the auction list.

In 2017, the number of foreclosure houses was 9,000; in 2018 it was 20,000; in 2019, 500,000; in 2020, more than 1.2 million. As of mid-December 2021, foreclosure houses in China hit a record high at over 1.68 million.

Among them, Jiangsu Province ranked first with 209,900 units, Zhejiang ranked second with 179,300 units, and Henan, Guangdong, and Shandong ranked third, fourth, and fifth.

While these are cumulative numbers, not net annual increases, an unprecedented spike is happening in foreclosures of residential houses.

Source: Xinhua Daily Media Group, January 17, 2022

http://www.xhby.net/fc/xwzx/202201/t20220117_7388962.shtml

China’s Population Sees the Slowest Growth in Decades

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the total population in mainland China, excluding foreigners, was 1.41 billion people as of the end of 2021, an increase of 480,000 people compared to 2020.

There were 10.62 million newborns and 10.14 million deaths. The natural population growth rate was therefore 0.034 percent for 2021.

Analysts in China observed that the number of newborns in China in 2021 was the lowest since 1949, and the birth rate was the lowest on record.

A moderate forecast for the future trend of China’s population assumes China spends 1 to 3 percent of its annual GDP on incentivizing women to have more children, which is the average spending rate of developed countries. In that case, China’s newborns will drop to below 10 million in the next two or three years, down to 773,000 in 2050 and 306,000 in 2100. Currently, China’s newborns are half that of India. The rate will be one-third of India’s by 2050 and less than one-quarter of India’s by 2100. According to this moderate forecast, China’s newborns will be overtaken by the United States in 2083 and will be two-thirds of the United States in 2100. While China’s total population is more than four times that of the United States, the number of newborns will be overtaken by the United States in two generations, showing the population’s rapid depletion.

Sources:
China National Bureau of Statistics, January 17, 2022
http://www.stats.gov.cn/tjsj/zxfb/202201/t20220117_1826404.html
iFeng.com, January 17, 2022
https://tech.ifeng.com/c/8CssztQSfpL
Caixin, December 14, 2021
https://opinion.caixin.com/2021-12-14/101817400.html

Chinese Economist Banned from Weibo Due to Comments on Financing Childbirths

China has banned the Twitter-like Weibo account of Ren Zeping, an Internet celebrity, and a former economist in mainland China. Ren was also the chief economist for Evergrande China Group, one of China’s largest real estate developers, which is now mired in debt.

At the top of Ren’s Weibo account, the notice said he had “violated relevant laws and regulations.”

What had Ren posted on his Weibo account?

On January 10, 2022, Ren posted an article titled, “The Solution to Findings of Low Fertility — The China Fertility Report.” His article stated that the main reasons for low fertility are the high cost of raising children and high housing prices. Therefore to solve the low fertility rate, China must reduce the cost of raising children. Ren believes that establishing a fertility incentive fund may stabilize growth and boost domestic demand in the short term. It can improve the supply side, optimize the population structure, and help national rejuvenation in the long run.

In his post, Ren suggested that the central bank print 2 trillion yuan (US$314 billion) to support the birth of 50 million babies over the next ten years.

Why 2 trillion yuan? Ren explained that family social welfare expenditures related to childbirth incentives account for two to three percent of GDP in OECD countries OECD stands for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It is is an international organisation that works to build better policies for better lives. China’s GDP is 110 trillion yuan, so Ren believes the incentive fund should be 2 trillion yuan.

Ren’s figure of 50 million childbirths for ten years is an estimate based on the assumption that 15 million babies are required annually to stabilize the population. There are about 10 million per year using the 2021 low fertility rate of 1.1 percent. So 5 million per year for ten years is 50 million in total.

Ren also urged the authorities to establish the fund as quickly as possible. “We must seize the time when we can still have children from those women born from 1975 to 1985 because they still believe that having more children is a blessing. He reminded that the post-90s and post-2000s generation would not want to discuss having a second or third child. Many people are not even willing to get married.

Why was he banned on Weibo? Some speculated that Ren might have hit a nerve with the authorities. The economic strategy proposed by Ren reflects an unspoken consensus among Chinese economists; that is, the regime’s economic model may have come to an end. The regime has tried to control the high housing prices. In the past, China’s inflation and debt risks were mainly absorbed by real estate. Printing money for more childbirths now would likely increase prices and be suicidal. It could push the Chinese economy further into a recession.

Source: sina.com, January 10, 2022
https://finance.sina.com.cn/zl/china/2022-01-10/zl-ikyakumx9364507.shtml

2021: More Small Businesses Folded Than Opened

China has issued updated guidance for businesses that wish to close their doors. In 2021, for the first time in twenty years, small business closures exceeded new openings .

On December 29, 2021, five state agencies jointly issued the “Guidelines for Enterprise Deregistration (Revised in 2021).” The five state agencies are the State Administration for Market Regulation, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the Ministry of Commerce, the General Administration of Customs, and the State Administration of Taxation.

Before a business officially terminates, the Guideline requires the company must declare its dissolution, establish a liquidation team, liquidate its property, pay taxes, clear up debts, and pay employee wages and social insurance. After the liquidation, the business can deregister and ceases to exist.

The authorities updated the deregistration guideline after the time when many small businesses folded in 2021.

According to the South China Morning Post, in the first 11 months of 2021, about 4.37 million Chinese small and micro businesses closed their doors. That was more than three times the number of small and micro enterprises that opened in the same period.

On average, more than 390,000 small and micro businesses deregistered each month in 2021, compared to 370,000 in 2020. The deregistration in 2021 also outnumbered new registration for the first time in 20 years.

It is predicted that the 2021 annual deregistration is likely to exceed the all-time high of 4.45 million in 2020. The 2020 number almost doubled that of 2019, and the 2019 number was about ten times that of 2018.

Small and micro businesses are an important foundation of China’s national economy, accounting for half of China’s tax revenue, 60 percent of GDP, and 80 percent of urban employment.

Sources:

China Central TV, December 29, 2021
https://news.cctv.com/2021/12/29/ARTIl4ZXOwvvYGcfrkqwHLUp211229.shtml

Zaobao.com, December 31, 2021
https://www.kzaobao.com/shiju/20211231/107661.htmlthe