China Begins To Lift Covid Restrictions After Days of Protests

The Chinese government has begun easing some virus restrictions, less than a week after residents in major cities across the country took to the streets to protest the country’s failing Covid policy. But the regime remains stern and cautious, focusing the narrative on the Omicron variant’s weakening pathogenic nature as the primary catalyst for the changes.

In the last 24 hours, reports and anecdotes have circulated about how in Beijing, the country’s capital city, some people who tested positive for Covid-19 with mild symptoms have been allowed to isolate at home rather than be sent to a centralized quarantine facility.

On Wednesday, restrictions in Guangzhou were suddenly lifted, with officials saying restaurants would be allowed to resume in-store dining, and entertainment venues would be allowed to open gradually. 

Beijing, Shanghai, and Chongqing also saw some restrictions lifted.

The announcements came just hours after demonstrations in the city erupted into violent clashes between the police and protesters.

But the focus was shifted away from the protests and brought towards downplaying the severity of the Omicron variant. 

“The country is facing a new situation and new tasks in epidemic prevention and control as the pathogenicity of the Omicron virus weakens, more people are vaccinated and experience in containing the virus is accumulated,” said Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, one of the country’s most senior pandemic officials, also on Wednesday, as translated by a Reuters report.

The protests in the country’s major cities, which have been described as ‘stunning’ and ‘surreal,’ have vastly raised the level of dissent the country’s citizens are allowed. Never has Xi Jinping’s regime seen such a bold display of rage and dissatisfaction, and so soon after nabbing a third term as the country’s leader.

Stocks also rallied as hopes of reopening soon went up. The Shanghai Composite was up 1.59%, while Shenzhen Composite Index rose by 2.47%.

But “soon” is still a quarter away, analysts project. China is expected to go through a rough few months of the “weakening” Omicron variant under relaxing restrictions before it finally reemerges at the end of March 2023.

Mainland China reported a new record of over 41,000 new infections on Wednesday.

Information for this briefing was found via Reuters, CNBC, BBC, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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