Tag Archives: Jilin

Omicron Continues To Challenge China’s Zero-Covid

Chart showing 7-day rolling average of daily new confirmed Covid-19 cases.

WORKD REACHES US of panic food buying in Guangdong. Residents are stripping supermarket shelves bare, fearing the possibility of a Shanghai-style citywide lockdown following the discovery of new Covid-19 cases in Guangdong’s provincial capital. Authorities are due to start mass testing. Given Beijing’s doubling down on its zero-Covid policy, restrictions on movement will surely follow.

Meanwhile, Shanghai authorities are suggesting some slight easing of the severe lockdown residents there have been under for more than a week. They will categorise districts into three types according to the level of risk from Covid. Once a section achieves the least risky status, some of the strict restrictions on movement may be eased locally.

That will still take some time to pass. All infectious cases will have to be moved to within centralised Winter Olympic-like ‘closed-loop’ central facilities first so the outbreak is contained there and cannot spread. Jilin in the northeast is only just coming out of its lockdown after 33-days.

China’s largest city and financial and commercial hub is still struggling to provide the locked-down with basic food supplies and medical care. However, reports say the situation has stopped getting worse and is improving in some districts as the logjams in distribution start to ease.

Shanghai has experienced China’s worst coronavirus outbreak since the early days of the pandemic. The under vaccination of the elderly and relative ineffectiveness of China’s vaccines — Sinovac cuts the death rate tenfold for over-80s but is roughly half as effective as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — have painted Beijing into a corner.

It has little option but to stick with its zero-Covid policy despite its inability to deal with the rapid spread of the high-contagious but less fatal Omicron variant. Nonetheless, zero-Covid now no longer means zero local cases but zero local cases outside quarantine facilities.

Attempting to live with the virus as other countries are now doing would likely result in a politically unacceptable wave of deaths and hospitalisations until widespread vaccination with more effective vaccines could be achieved on a mass scale. That would require a national roll-out of an indigenous mRNA vaccine that would take months to administer the initial two shots.

It would also undercut the official narrative of how China’s success in keeping the death rate low by international standards stands in contrast with Western governments’ willingness to accept high death rates among their citizens in order to reopen economies.

Leave a comment

Filed under Politics & Society

China Battles Multiple Outbreaks As Omicron Variant Surges

Rolling 7-day average of new daily confirmed Covid-19 cases in China. Source: Our World in Data. Licenced under CC-BY

THE COVID OUTBREAKS across China are expanding. The National Health Commission on March 14 reported a daily total of 1,337 new locally transmitted cases, including 895 in the northeastern border province of Jilin.

Severe movement restrictions have been imposed on Jilin, the first provincial-wide sealing-off since much of Hubei was locked down in 2020 following the first outbreak in its provincial capital, Wuhan. This broadens the restrictions imposed last week on the provincial capital of Changchun, where most of Jilin’s infections have been reported. Emergency isolation hospitals are being erected. Toyota’s factory there has had to halt production. (Update: Jilin City mayor Wang Lu has been sacked due to ineffective epidemic prevention and control, Xinhua reports.)

In Shanghai, schools have reverted to online teaching, road transport to the city is being restricted. A ban on inbound international flights is reportedly being considered.

The lockdown in central Shenzhen has expanded to cover most of the city’s 17.5 million population, and three rounds of testing have been ordered. High-tech factories such as those of Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn) and Huawei will temporarily stop production. However, the Shenzhen Yantian Port container terminal is still operating, but under strict Covid controls.

The Shenzhen outbreak is likely to be a spillover from the raging infection in neighbouring Hong Kong, where 26,908 new daily cases and 249 deaths were reported on Monday. New infections appear to have plateaued, but deaths are still rising, especially among the unvaccinated elderly.

New cases are also reported in Beijing, Tianjin and cities across Guangdong province.

As of March 9, 14 of China’s provinces had been declared high or medium-risk for the virus. The clusters of outbreaks caused by the fast-spreading Omicron sub-variant BA2 are proving a stiff test of Beijing’s zero-tolerance policy.

No death from the virus has been reported in China since January 2021. However, on Friday, National Health Commissioner Ma Xiaowei said strict controls need to be kept in place.

1 Comment

Filed under Hong Kong, Politics & Society

China Reimposes Wuhan-like Lockdown In North-East

The main railway station at Jilin, seen in 2011. Photo credit: 阳之下光. Licenced under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0.

JILIN IS REVERSING the lifting of lockdown restrictions amid a flare-up of new Covid-19 cases in the north-eastern province that shares borders with North Korea and Russia.

In Jilin city, the province’s second-largest city with a population of 4.5 million, transport was shut down again Wuhan-like from 6 am on Wednesday. (The photo above is an archive one of Jilin railway station.) City residents may only leave if they can show they have tested negative for Covid-19 within 48-hours of intended travel, and it is not clear that they can get back. Schools have reclosed and several residential compounds have been quarantined. Authorities have also closed places of entertainment and tourist spots and banned group dining.

Nearby Shulan, where there is also a cluster of new cases, was closed off on Sunday. Contact tracing has established connections between the two outbreaks.

Both places are some 150 kilometres north of the nearest border with North Korea. However, the main road from the provincial capital Changchun to the point where the Chinese, North Korean and Russian borders meet runs through Jilin, which also has road connections north through Shulan to Harbin in neighbouring Heilongjiang province, a hub for Chinese-Russian commerce, and which had reported 386 cases of imported infection as of Monday. Travellers arriving in Harbin from along that road now face 28 days of mandatory quarantine.

Inevitably a new cluster of cases has heightened fears of a spillover of infection from either neighbouring country. The epidemic continues to grow in Russia, which now has approaching one-quarter of a million confirmed cases. Heilongjiang is imposing 35 days of quarantine on travellers from Russia.

North Korea has yet to confirm any Covid-19 infections. However, the suspicion is widespread that there are cases, reinforced by the recent exchange of messages about the virus between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Xi Jinping. North Korea’s economy relies on illicit trade back and forth across the Yalu and Tumen rivers that separate it from China, providing a difficult to detect corridor of disease transmission.

Leave a comment

Filed under China-Koreas, China-Russia

More Torrential Rains Raises Disaster Fears In Northeast, North Korea

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=Yalu+River&iid=9499693″ src=”http://view2.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9499693/motorboat-speeds-past/motorboat-speeds-past.jpg?size=500&imageId=9499693″ width=”500″ height=”336″ /]

Shipping on the Yalu River (above, looking towards North Korea), which marks China’s border with its reclusive neighbor, has been suspended following more torrential rain that has swollen the river to critical levels, and prompted fears of further devastating flooding on both sides of the border. More than 40,000 residents from Dandong at the mouth of the river in Liaoning have been evacuated to higher ground. The Tumen River, which borders North Korea in Jilin, where flooding has already killed at least 74 people and affected 4 million, is similarly swollen, with another round of heavy rain expected imminently.

Red Cross workers in North Korea have reported heavy damage by floods in the east of the country, with buildings, bridges and roads destroyed. North Korean state media reported earlier this week that widespread damage had been caused by this summer’s exceptionally heavy rains that are falling across Asia, with 36,700 acres (14,850 hectares) of farmland destroyed. Flooding in North Korea in 2006 and again in 2007 brought on by torrential rains caused extensive loss of life and damage, particularly to farmland, and raised the prospect of widespread food shortages and a repeat of the famine of the mid-1990s that is said to have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths.

The latest official figures put China’s death toll from flood-triggered disasters across the country so far this year at more than 1,450 with another 669 missing. More than 2 million hectares of farmland have been destroyed and 13.5 million hectares of crops damaged. Nearly 1.4 million houses have been destroyed. The total economic loss is now put at more than 275 billion yuan ($40.6 billion), according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Beijing has allocated 195 million yuan for relief work to local governments in the five provinces worst-hit by the rains and typhoons, Jilin, Guangdong, Sichuan, Shaanxi and Guangxi Zhuang.

3 Comments

Filed under China-Koreas, Environment

China Coping With Flooding Better Than Pakistan

The extent of the death toll and chaos in Pakistan caused by monsoon flooding throws a favorable light on the efforts of China’s authorities to deal with months of similar devastating weather across the length and breadth of the country. The relief effort under difficult conditions has been massive with 287,000 military personnel put to rescue work (below) along with vast cadres of civilians. While not all the lessons of the disastrous floods of 1998 have been learned, sufficient have been to have averted what could have been a bigger catastrophe.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=china%2c+floods&iid=9187080″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9187080/rescuers-carry-two/rescuers-carry-two.jpg?size=500&imageId=9187080″ width=”500″ height=”333″ /]

The scale of what China is having to deal with is indicated by a statement from the Red Cross Society of China that it is struggling to mobilize adequate resources in the wake of the appeals it carried out to respond to the Qinghai earthquake and serious drought in central parts of China earlier in the year. Latest official figures, as of July 29, put the death toll from flooding so far this year at 968 dead and 507 missing. The floods have affected 134 million people in 28 provinces. Direct economic losses are now put at 176.5 billion yuan ($26 billion). With rice harvests fast approaching in the southwest and central parts of the country, thousands of small-scale farmers face a hungry future.

The latest region to have been hit is Jilin in the northeast where more than 100 are dead or missing. Flash floods cut roads, triggered landslides and swelled rivers and reservoirs to critical levels. And still the rains continue.

Worst Affected Provinces
No. of People Affected (% of total provincial population)
Hubei: 10 million (17%)
Shaanxi: 3.65 million (10%)
Jiangxi: 5 million (12%)
Sichuan: 17.2 million (21%)

Source: Red Cross of China

Leave a comment

Filed under Environment

North China Drought Spreads

Typhoon season may be battering the coasts, but northern China and Inner Mongolia are parched for lack of rain. Between Aug.1st and Aug.16th, the area had just 50 mm of rain, with some places getting less than 10 mm as hot, dry weather carried on from July.  Liaoning, Jilin and Inner Mongolia are experiencing the worst drought conditions in nearly 60 years with rain fall at 10%, 20% and 40% of normal levels respectively. Moderate drought areas are turning into serious ones in western Jilin, eastern and central Liaoning and southeastern Inner Mongolia.

Xinhua reports that emergency drinking water supplies are being shipped in for the 1.5 million of the region’s 3.9 million inhabitants worst affected. Authorities are also irrigating 47 million mu (3.13 million hectares) of crops. Late last week, the Ministry of Agriculture said 125 million mu of crops were at risk. Along with Heilongjiang and Shanxi, Liaoning, Jilin,  and Inner Mongolia produce about a third of the country’s winter grain.

Update: There is rain in the forecast for the next few days.

1 Comment

Filed under Environment, Politics & Society