Covid China, Sisci: “stagflation risk”

The control of the pandemic first of all. The ‘Covid-zero’ goal, the hard lockdown to stop the coronavirus, more than two years after the first cases in Wuhan, in the year in which Xi Jinping goes towards the third term as leader. But in China the surge in infections does not stop, it is not clear how and when the emergency will end, a fact that involves “elements of great uncertainty for the future and for entrepreneurs”. Growth has slowed down: the estimates for this year spoke of a GDP of 5.5% per year. And + 4.8% is the figure for the first quarter. The result “is good”, but there is “the uncertainty of Covid”, which “stops consumption and production again while the prices of raw materials are soaring”, so “the risk” is that the second economy in the world you are entering a period of “stagflation”, (‘stagflation’, stagnation plus inflation), the sinologist Francesco Sisci told Adnkronos, recalling how “the volume of Chinese trade is larger in the world, larger than the American one” and therefore if there was “an impact on Chinese trade” the whole world would suffer. “China has a contraction in consumption. There is an increase in raw materials that affects it because it is a net importer of raw materials – he observes – Rising prices and economic stagnation and China could be attacked by a ‘stagflation’. What if this is triggered, in the coming months it could have dangerous effects on a global level “. There is another point: the “investment ‘sentiment’ risks worsening”, says Sisci, highlighting how “important factories like Apple and Tesla have stopped production in Shanghai”. “They will certainly not transfer it at any moment, but what do they think?”, He observes, reasoning both on the progress of the coronavirus pandemic and on the fact that “China is subjected to political pressure while other countries are not”. growth, Sisci speaks of a figure (+ 4.8%) “a little below the average”, but still “quite good”, noting however that the current situation is that of an Asian giant (1.4 billion people) with “maybe 80 cities, between large and small, in a form of total or partial lockdown”, with “about half a billion people with limitations on freedom, production and consumption” and an impact that is “certainly very large”. It is a “new” situation compared to two years ago, when the Chinese lockdown “worked” and the population “obeyed orders” and had “faith in the government”. Then, remember, “Europe and America were moving towards a situation of great confusion and volatility and instead China, thanks to its measures of social control, resumed production and activity “. Today it is the opposite. And “China has returned to Covid with no clear prospect of how and when it will come out”, a fact that “involves elements of great uncertainty for the future and for entrepreneurs”. What has happened since 2020? It happened, says Sisci, that “in China due to the success of the draconian measures and the lack of an efficient Chinese vaccine there is no herd immunity, so if China tried to open today there could be millions of deaths”. And the Asian giant “could import a Western vaccine, but a vaccination campaign for one and a half billion people is complicated” as well as being “a political problem”. That is, “importing Pfizer and using it for a massive vaccination campaign still means communicating that America is efficient and China not so much”. And there is also the ‘Covid-zero’ mantra. “In these two years – says the sinologist – we have gotten used to living with Covid, while the message from China was that it was possible to live completely free from Covid”. And therefore there is always the problem of explaining to the population, “passing from total security to an uncertainty of contagion, to living with the disease”, all “enormous questions to which we have no answer today”. And that “cast a shadow over the entire Chinese economy in the coming months, at least in the next year until – he continues – a new massive vaccination campaign will start again”. What happens in the Asian giant – he concludes – “could have a negative impact globally, but also, in particular, it could have dangerous effects for China itself. “