What the great reopening means for China—and the world
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When its borders open on January 8th, China will have spent 1,016 days closed to the outside world. The country’s “zero-covid” policy has been a social and economic experiment without precedent: a vast public-health campaign that mostly kept the disease at bay; Xi Jinping’s pride and joy; and, by the end, a waking nightmare for many of China’s 1.4bn people.


Armies in white hazmat suits have been deployed to collect tens of billions of throat and nasal swabs. Millions were **quarantined **or **hauled **off to fever camps, often arbitrarily. Fear of **isolation **sent people fleeing from offices and factories where cases were found. **Amateur **videos captured residents leaping to their deaths from apartment blocks after weeks of seclusion. In major cities daily life stood still for months on end. A **cosmopolitan **class of young, wealthy Chinese was forced to come to **grips **with a life without international travel. Foreign entrepreneurs and executives were barred from returning to their homes and businesses in the country.

身穿白色防护服的大白(文中用的是army 军队)收集数百亿的喉捻子和鼻捻子(来检验病毒)。几百万人被随意(arbitrarily:in a way that does not seem to be based on a reason, system or plan and sometimes seems unfair)拉去方舱隔离。当某地发现阳性,害怕隔离的人从办公司或者工厂逃离。许多业余的视频拍下了那些经过数周的隔离从从小区跳楼而亡的人。在大多数城市,日常的生活停滞了数月。国际化阶层的年轻、有钱的中国人被强制过上了没有国际旅行的中国人。外国的企业家和董事被阻止返回到他们的家和事业上。

Before vaccines were widely available, officials could argue this approach was needed to save lives. By the end, the experiment offered a **bleak **existence at an extraordinary cost. China’s economy probably grew by less than 3% in 2022. Over the past 18 months, it has **forgone **about $1trn-worth of gdp, according to Oxford Economics, a research firm, compared with what it would have produced had its reopening **resembled **the rest of the world’s. Restrictions on movement **snarled **the most advanced global supply chains. In November profits at industrial firms dropped by 9% year on year. Meanwhile, exchanges between China and the outside world fell to their lowest in decades. Few foreign students remain. Overseas tourism has collapsed. Mr Xi has only recently **resumed **foreign travel after remaining in China for two-and-a-half years.


Zero-covid lasted longer than anyone initially expected, then collapsed faster than anyone could have imagined. In a matter of weeks China has gone from some of the world’s strictest restrictions to almost none. For the population at large, fear of lockdowns and quarantine has vanished. Following a period of turbulence, economic activity is likely to **rebound **sharply. Increased demand for energy and **commodities **will be felt around the world. **Investors **and multinational executives will soon be able to visit offices and factories. The great reconnecting of China with the outside world marks the end of an era: that of the global pandemic.


Normality will not arrive immediately. According to one estimate, 37m people a day are catching covid. Hospitals are overwhelmed. So are crematoria. Officials acknowledge few deaths—and face an **immense **challenge keeping production lines running. Tesla, a carmaker, **halted **operations at its factory in Shanghai on December 24th. Local officials may **seal off **towns to keep cases down, worries an executive. The economy could **contract **in the first three months of opening up, says Tommy Wu of Commerzbank. But the recovery will arrive earlier than analysts had expected. Many think the period of **volatility **will draw to a close by the end of March. At that point, a recovery will begin that should gain strength as the year progresses.

常态不会立即到来。根据一项估计,每天有3700万人感染covid。医院不堪重负。火葬场也是。官员们承认死亡人数很少,并且面临着保持生产线运转的巨大挑战。汽车制造商特斯拉 (Tesla) 12月24日停止了其上海工厂的运营。一位高管担心,地方官员可能会封锁城镇以减少案件。Commerzbank的 Tommy Wu表示,经济可能会在开放的前三个月收缩。但复苏将比分析师预期的更早到来。许多人认为,波动期将在3月底结束。届时,随着一年的进行,复苏将开始。

Li Pengfei, until recently a product manager at an industrial-software firm in Beijing, is among those desperate for a return to normality. Mr Li lost his job in February when restrictions made basic duties, such as travelling to meet clients, near-impossible. He spent part of last year living with his sister, but was forced to return home to Jilin province in China’s far northeast, where economic prospects were **dismal **even before the pandemic. “Things seem so **volatile **that even the big companies are downsizing,” he says.

李鹏飞,北京一家工业软件公司的产品经理,他渴望恢复正常。李先生在2月失去了工作,当时限制使基本职责 (例如与客户见面) 几乎是不可能的。去年,他与姐姐住在一起,但是是被迫返回中国东北吉林省,那里的经济前景甚至在大流行之前就惨淡。他说: “事情看起来如此不稳定,以至于即使是大公司也在裁员。”

Elsewhere in the world bosses worry about a “great resignation”, with workers quitting jobs or dropping out of the labour force altogether. This is less of a concern in China. The government did not hand out **stimulus cheques **willy-nilly, as America’s did, during the pandemic. People who lost jobs, such as Mr Li, will return to work when the opportunity arises, economists believe, helping to steady factory output.

在世界其他地方,老板们担心 “大辞职”,工人辞职或完全退出劳动力大军。在中国,这不是一个令人担忧的问题。在大流行期间,政府没有像美国那样随意发放刺激支票。经济学家认为,失去工作的人,例如李先生,将在机会出现时重返工作岗位,这有助于稳定工厂产出。

Consumption will rise, too. Incomes have fallen, but zero-covid also **squashed **spending, as people avoided travelling and eating out. All told, **households **saved one-third of their income last year. Many will be getting back on their feet after job losses, **stagnating **pay and declines in the value of their homes, meaning the **splurge **will be limited. But Jacqueline Rong of bnp Paribas, a bank, reckons household consumption will grow by about 9% in 2023—a big improvement on the previous year’s growth rate, if not full **retribution **for the enforced **abstemiousness **of recent years.

消费也会上升。收入下降了,但动态清零也压缩了支出,因为人们避免旅行和外出就餐。总而言之,去年家庭节省了3分之1的收入。在失业,工资停滞和房屋价值下降之后,许多将重新恢复,这意味着挥霍将受到限制。但是,法国巴黎银行 (bnp Paribas) 的杰奎琳·荣 (Jacqueline Rong) 认为,2023年家庭消费将增长约9%,这比去年的增长率有了很大改善,即使不完全报复近年来的强制性节制。

Reopening will also benefit China’s troubled property sector, though quite how much depends on political decisions. In November, as covid restrictions were relaxed, policymakers eased property developers’ access to financing. This should help stronger firms avoid default and at last finish building flats they have already sold to homebuyers. At China’s Central Economic Work Conference in December, policymakers promised to support “fundamental demand”, as opposed to speculative purchases. To that end, they may make further cuts to mortgage rates and down-payment requirements.

重新开放也将使中国陷入困境的房地产行业受益,尽管这在很大程度上取决于政治决定。11月,随着covid限制的放松,政策制定者放宽了房地产开发商的融资渠道。这应该有助于更强大的公司避免违约,并最终完成已经出售给购房者的公寓。在12月举行的中国中央经济工作会议上,政策制定者承诺支持 “基本需求”,而不是投机性购买。为此,他们可能会进一步降低抵押贷款利率和首付要求。

Forecasts for the performance of the property sector, broadly defined to include construction, services and furnishings, range widely. Activity in the industry could grow by 3% this year, according to Jing Liu of hsbc, a bank—enough to add 0.9 percentage points to China’s gdp growth. A more optimistic **scenario **has activity expanding by 5%, she thinks, adding 1.5 points to growth. Some households might decide that now is a good time to “buy the dip”, before prices **revive **or **regulatory **restrictions on home purchases return.

对房地产行业业绩的预测,广义上包括建筑、服务和家具,范围很广。汇丰银行 (hsbc) 的刘静 (Jing Liu) 表示,今年该行业的活动可能会增长3%,足以为中国的gdp增长增加0.9个百分点。她认为,更乐观的情况是活动扩大了5%,为增长增加了1.5点。一些家庭可能会认为,在房价复苏或对购房的监管限制回归之前,现在是 “买入下跌” 的好时机。

The economic implications of reopening extend further afield. Zero-covid kept a lid on China’s demand for global goods, services and commodities. During the lockdown of Shanghai in the first half of last year, for instance, the country’s oil demand fell by 2m barrels per day. In the past, such drops in Chinese spending would have **deprived **the world economy of a crucial engine of growth. The covid downturn has been different. It coincided with an overheated economy in America and an interrupted supply of energy across Europe. “At least this time China isn’t contributing to inflation,” says Louis Kuijs of s&p Global, a rating agency.

重新开放的经济影响延伸到更远的地方。清零限制了中国对全球商品,服务和商品的需求。例如,在去年上半年上海封锁期间,该国的石油需求每天下降200万桶。过去,中国支出的这种下降将使世界经济失去关键的增长引擎。covid的低迷有所不同。恰逢美国经济过热和整个欧洲的能源供应中断。评级机构标准普尔全球 (s & p Global) 的高路易 (Louis Kuijs) 表示: “至少这一次,中国没有助长通胀。”


Deep damage has been done to parts of China’s supply chain. A covid outbreak, followed by protests, at a plant making Apple’s iPhone 14 in central China has delayed orders for the product. For foreign firms, the crisis was the first time that central policy **interfered **with local officials’ **commitment **to keep factories running. Many companies are now willing to pay more to manufacture elsewhere. Take the process of launching new products, which requires an almost continuous flow of researchers and scientists between headquarters, usually in the West, and plants in China. The covid years made this dance impossible. Engineers stopped visiting; fewer new products were launched in the country. Multinational firms have been forced, often reluctantly, to launch elsewhere.

对中国供应链的某些部分造成了严重损害。在中国中部生产苹果iphone14的一家工厂,covid爆发,随后抗议,推迟了该产品的订单。对于外国公司而言,这场危机是中央政策首次干扰地方官员保持工厂运转的承诺。许多公司现在愿意支付更多的费用去其他地方制造。以推出新产品的过程为例,这需要在总部 (通常在西方) 和中国工厂之间几乎连续不断的研究人员和科学家流动。covid的岁月使这种舞蹈变得不可能。工程师停止访问; 该国推出的新产品较少。跨国公司被迫 (通常是不情愿地) 在其他地方推出。

But after years of zero-covid, bosses have become more comfortable with moving away from China. Inbound investment in new “greenfield” factories has plummeted (see chart 3). At the same time, the number of firms moving operations out of China has jumped, says Alex Bryant of East West Associates, a supply-chain consultant. Most of the moves Mr Bryant’s firm has assisted with over the past year have been outbound. He thinks the reopening of China is unlikely to lead to an immediate turnaround in the direction of traffic.

但在经历了多年的零covid之后,老板们对离开中国变得更加自在。新 “绿地” 工厂的入境投资大幅下降 (见图3)。供应链顾问East West Associates的亚历克斯·布莱恩特 (Alex Bryant) 表示,与此同时,将业务转移到中国的公司数量激增。在过去的一年中,科比先生的公司协助采取的大部分举措都是外移的。他认为中国的重新开放不太可能导致交通方向的立即转变。

Policymakers are waking up to the danger. Officials and businessfolk from Fujian, Guangdong, Sichuan, Zhejiang and elsewhere are planning trips abroad to win back investors, according to a state-media report. “A meeting is worth a thousand emails,” it said. In December China’s leaders announced a focus on attracting foreign money, emphasising that local governments should prioritise finding investors. Such language has not been used at a Politburo meeting in many years, notes Robin Xing of Morgan Stanley, a bank. “They clearly want to keep their place in the global supply chain,” he says. Nevertheless, making up for the chaos of 2022 will require an awful lot of meetings. 

政策制定者正在意识到这种危险。据官方媒体报道,来自福建,广东,四川,浙江和其他地方的官员和商人正计划出国旅行以夺回投资者。“一次会议值得一千封电子邮件,” 它说。12月,中国领导人宣布了吸引外资的重点,强调地方政府应优先寻找投资者。银行摩根士丹利 (Morgan Stanley) 的Robin Xing指出,这种语言多年来从未在政治局会议上使用过。“他们显然希望保持自己在全球供应链中的地位,” 他说。然而,弥补2022年的混乱将需要大量的会议。


原文:What the great reopening means for China—and the world | The Economist

笔记:What the great reopening means for China—and the world (wolai.com)