After weeks of allegedly covering up COVID-related deaths in senior-living facilities, Shanghai has curiously picked Monday - just hours after releasing stronger-than-expected (and likely goalseeked) Q1 GDP figures - to confirm the first COVID deaths in the city of 26 million, where more than 100K people have been confirmed positive with the virus over the past month alone.
To be sure, the official figures are still pretty small: the city confirmed that people have died as of Sunday, the city said, attributing the deaths to preexisting health conditions. The official announcement noted all three people were elderly and were also not vaccinated.
Shanghai authorities have been doing everything they can to try and force more older Chinese to accept its vaccines, which have been said to be less effective than their western counterparts.
To be sure, about 224.8 million people over the age of 60 have already been vaccinated, which represents about 85% of that age group.
But for those who haven't yet received the vaccine, local authorities are trying another novel tactic: bribing them.
According to CNBC, at least one neighborhood in the capital city of Beijing has said that anyone over the age of 60 getting their first COVID shot could receive a reward worth the equivalent of about $70 to $80, citing anecdotal reports.
Case numbers have started to cool, per the official data, as authorities hope to be able to start rolling back restrictions in the country's largest city (which is 3x the size of NYC) by Wednesday: On Sunday, Shanghai reported 19,831 cases with no symptoms, and 2,417 new confirmed COVID cases with symptoms. Meanwhile, outside of Shanghai, another 300 newly confirmed cases with symptoms were reported across the rest of mainland China.
Shanghai's lockdown has been particularly brutal, as local residents describe running low on food and essential supplies while being effectively sealed inside their homes. Many who took to social media - or their balconies - to protest the lockdown were ordered to cease and desist by the authorities, who haven't hesitated to crack down on all dissent, even while the CCP's policies have led to unnecessary and otherwise preventable deaths.
One memorable video, which made the rounds on western social media, depicted Shanghaiers taking to their balconies to chant in protest, as CCP drones ordered them to halt and go back inside.
As seen on Weibo: Shanghai residents go to their balconies to sing & protest lack of supplies. A drone appears: “Please comply w covid restrictions. Control your soul’s desire for freedom. Do not open the window or sing.” https://t.co/0ZTc8fznaV pic.twitter.com/pAnEGOlBIh— Alice Su (@aliceysu) April 6, 2022
As we have previously noted, analysts at Nomura estimated last week that 45 cities responsible for about 40% of China’s GDP were under complete or partial lockdowns, and said the country was at "risk of recession." As a result, prices of commodities both agricultural and industrial, have tumbled in China, leading to some speculation that the CCP is using the lockdowns to manipulate commodity prices and prevent the levels of inflation afflicting western economies from ever being imported to China.
Keep in mind: China is desperately in need of crude oil, LNG, food, basic materials, base metals, and other commodities. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has created additional energy scarcity, inflation, and skyrocketing food inflation. While China hasn’t had any material problems with the virus from Wuhan in the past, it’s interesting that their draconian lockdowns (in conjunction with telegraphing the purchase of fewer cargoes of LNG and crude) are forcing global economists to ratchet growth expectations lower while concurrently blunting future demand projections.
And as the impact of China's broken supply chains reverberate across the world (from Europe, to North America, and beyond), we can't help but wonder if the CCP secretly wants to country's supply chains to remain broken.
*SHANGHAI REPORTS FIRST DEATHS DURING CURRENT COVID OUTBREAK— zerohedge (@zerohedge) April 18, 2022
China really wants those supply chains to stay broken.