Just as economists were breathing a sigh of relief as the policymakers in Beijing ordered Shenzhen to swiftly reopen following a punishing omicron-inspired lockdown, the CCP on Tuesday announced plans to temporarily lock down in Tangshan, in China’s northeastern Hebei Province. The city of roughly 7.7 million is known as China’s “steel city” and is responsible for roughly 10% of the country’s steel production.
Local officials announced emergency traffic controls and mass coronavirus testing for the city’s entire population after finding seven new local COVID cases.
According to the SCMP, Tangshan’s pandemic control office said all city roads, except the expressways, would be subject to “indefinite” traffic restrictions starting Sunday, with only emergency vehicles like ambulances, fire engines and those transporting emergency supplies allowed to run. Residents needing to travel due to “special circumstances” must apply for permission with their local authorities. Local Chinese news outlets said that companies in the area have already halted production because of the outbreak. To put things in perspective, the city reported just 7 locally transmitted cases on Tuesday.
While some blast-furnace workers have been ordered to continue working, nearly all non-essential workers in the city have been ordered home to isolate.
COVID-related restrictions have also recently been intensified in Shanghai, China’s financial capital, where locals have grown increasingly restive, with some even pushing back against the authorities’ orders.
Footage circulating on American social media shows people in Shanghai pushing through lockdown restrictions.
People trying to breakthrough government’s lockdown lines.
— Gabriel Hébert-Mild™ ⓥ (@Gab_H_R) March 22, 2022
While the CCP leadership has insisted that it will continue with its zero-tolerance policy for COVID, the leadership’s frustration with the ongoing outbreak has led to a number of lower-level officials being fired. At least six high-level provincial officials have so far been sacked for their failure to control the outbreak, with another eight dismissed in Shenzhen alone.
While COVID cases nationwide have started to decline (at least, according to the official numbers), these recent developments have led some to wonder if the Chinese people are finally nearing their breaking point, as some of the most restrictive lockdown measures in the world have persisted more than two years after the virus first emerged in Wuhan.