If there is one thing China can do well, it is to impress with large numbers: The country's vaccination campaign exceeded the symbolic limit of one billion administered doses on Sunday.
That is more than a third of all vaccines against Covid-19 injected worldwide.
If you only look at the month of June, the proportion is even higher.
According to official figures, between 18 and 23 million vaccinations were recently carried out daily in China, almost every second in the world.
Political correspondent for China, North Korea and Mongolia.
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The Chinese are in a hurry to vaccinate, but not to loosen them.
This is especially true of the strict border regime.
Every person entering the country is quarantined in a hotel room for two to three weeks immediately after landing.
During this time, 14 corona tests are required, including a blood test.
There are no facilities for vaccinated persons.
In individual cases, a vaccination is said to have had a negative effect on travelers because the resulting IgG antibodies in their blood were apparently viewed by local officials as a sign of a possible infection.
Restrictions an obstacle to the economy?
The strict rules should not change for the time being. Deputy Head of the Disease Control Agency, Feng Zijian, recently said the borders were unlikely to open before the second half of 2022. An employee of the National Health Commission said that there are considerations to allow loosening in selected areas in order to test their effects. A prerequisite for this, however, is vaccination coverage of 80 percent of the population. According to previous plans, this value would not be reached until next year. 70 percent are planned by the end of the year.
The main reason for the aversion to easing is the Chinese government's zero tolerance policy. There have been hardly any new infections for more than a year. Any small outbreak will be tackled with drastic measures, as in Guangdong Province these days. Hundreds of flights were recently canceled and a residential area cordoned off after an employee of an airport restaurant in Shenzhen became infected with the Delta variant. Numerous cities in the province have tested almost their entire populations in the past few days after a cluster of just over a hundred cases.
The government does not define low incidence values or the relief of the health system as the benchmark for a successful prevention policy, but rather the avoidance of any new infections.
Head of state Xi Jinping deduces the superiority of the Chinese system from the low number of infections and deaths in the country.
A new corona wave could shake his narrative of success.
There are no considerations against other issues, at least in public discourse.
The strict prevention measures seem to be welcomed by the population, as far as one can say in a country without freedom of expression.
Instead of traveling abroad, the Chinese are currently vacationing in their own country.
The winter games firmly in view
When planning the time, the Chinese leadership is also keeping an eye on the Winter Olympics, which are to take place in Beijing and the surrounding area in February. Under no circumstances should the prestige project be jeopardized by new outbreaks. In direct comparison with the summer games in Japan, you want to do well. The high priority of the games can be seen from the fact that the residents of the venues were among the first to be vaccinated in China. A resident of the city of Chongli told the FAZ that the authorities had insisted that every single farmer be vaccinated. In Beijing, where the opening and closing ceremonies and some competitions are to take place, more than 70 percent of the population are now double vaccinated. Every adult can get vaccinated at one of hundreds of centers without an appointment.
At first the campaign got off to a slow start. The leadership felt it was more important to export vaccines abroad, and the population was in no hurry to get vaccinated. But a few months ago the Communist Party mobilized its entire apparatus for the vaccination campaign, which extends into every residential area and has already proven to be an effective tool in corona prevention. If a vaccination rate of 70 percent is achieved by the end of the year, that does not mean herd immunity. At least in comparison with mRNA vaccines such as BioNTech and Moderna, the effectiveness of Chinese vaccines is lower. Although they protect well against a severe course of the disease, they are less effective against infection or transmission of the virus.
Only Western business associations have made public demands for a relaxation of entry restrictions. According to their surveys, foreign companies consider the long quarantine to be one of the most important obstacles to their business. The government could therefore come under pressure if tourist traffic in the United States and Europe should normalize.
In terms of foreign policy, Beijing has been asking itself, at least since Joe Biden's trip to Europe, how long can Xi Jinping postpone his next trip abroad without appearing despondent. Even high visitors have not been received in Beijing in the past few months. The American climate officer John Kerry, for example, had to be content with Shanghai. The Chinese diplomats who met the former foreign minister were subsequently quarantined.