Politics "covid zero" in China depresses companies and employees


The “zero covid” policy in China, with its restrictions and uncertainty, makes life difficult for employees and companies, forced to adapt day by day and even close their doors.

China is the last major economy that maintains a strict health strategy, based on quarantining people who are positive, in selective confinements or mandatory PCR tests.

But this policy has serious repercussions on the economy, with businesses closed, tourism reduced, factories running at half capacity and production chains highly disrupted.

Although the Asian giant recovered quickly in 2020 from the first epidemic impact, it is now facing the worst outbreak of covid-19 in two years in recent months

This situation caused the total confinement for two months of the economic capital Shanghai in April, with disastrous repercussions for activity and employment.

Fiona Shi lost her job twice due to the pandemic

In 2020, the 38-year-old Pekingese was in a management position in hospitality, when the spread of covid dealt a heavy blow to tourism.

Two years later, Fiona, who has found work again in a multinational company, finds herself without a job again, this time due to health restrictions.

“The pandemic has made things more complicated” as several companies hesitate to hire or reduce their salary bill, the woman told AFP.

Another obstacle: many employers “no longer employ those over 35 years old”, Fiona notes bitterly, who declares herself “really worried”

Also, due to anticovid measures that can change from one day to the next, companies have little visibility into the future.

Mrs. Bai, 27, who worked for an American company in the technology sector, has been fired.

This is due to the restrictions of the authorities to regulate the sector of the digital giants. His boss was already “losing money” and preferred to leave the Chinese market.

“It won’t be the first or the last,” says Bai, who doesn’t want to reveal his full name.

In terms of logistics, health restrictions are a real puzzle.

The clothing chain where Andrew Zhang worked first tried to adapt to keep its stores open.

But his bosses “realized it wasn’t possible” because of quarantine rules, which disrupted supply.

Result: The company now only sells online, and Andrew lost his job.

In the month of March in China alone, about 1.3 million entities canceled their registration in the trade register, according to official figures. An increase of 24% in one year…

The current health strategy is firmly defended by President Xi Jinping and no one dares to question it publicly.

According to analysts, “covid zero” could become a perennial policy. And this even if the price is paid by the economy, and the restrictions make life impossible for employers and employees.

“Teleworking, especially in a sector like ours where overtime is the norm, is going to make the border between professional and personal life invisible,” laments Ning

This 26-year-old, who does not want to reveal his full name, worked in Beijing in the marketing service of a technology company.

It usually ends at 11pm. But since the generalization of teleworking since last month in the Beijing district where he lives, he finished after midnight and his weekends were reduced by overtime.

“I was exhausted. But that’s what I resigned,” Ning told AFP.

Since then, he has sent 200 CVs but has only obtained three job interviews

“It’s depressing,” he explains. “But something I have to find to survive.”