The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is willing to sacrifice its economy to pursue its dynamic “zero COVID-19” approach, which it considers a cornerstone policy to maintain political stability, an analysis commissioned by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said.
The policy remains Beijing’s guiding principle to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, as statements released on China’s National Day on Oct. 1 and at the CCP National Congress later that month showed, the report said.
A report released during the congress contains the word “security” 50 times, which reflects the CCP’s mindset, it said.
A lockdown of Shanghai in the spring affected more than 24 million people, with specific areas in the city bereft of food and tens of thousands displaced for mandatory quarantines at dedicated facilities, the MAC report said.
The CCP has adopted more than 120 military-style catchphrases to soothe the Chinese public, keep morale high and guide public opinion, it said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) declaration that Beijing would not waver in its pandemic policy at the congress shows that China is attempting to use its handling of COVID-19 outbreaks to prove the superiority of its political system, it said.
As Xi starts his third term as CCP secretary-general, any relaxation of the policy would imperil his credibility, especially if it leads to a larger outbreak of the disease, the MAC report said, adding that any dent to his credibility would further call into question whether he can extend his rule beyond the third term.
Xi seeks to ensure that his tenure is not seen as a time of political instability, it said.
Adherence to the pandemic policy would affect China’s economy and slow its GDP growth, potentially sparking public discontent, it said.
However, small protests, such as when a person put up banners calling for Xi’s resignation in Beijing’s Haidian District just before the congress, are just perceived as “noise” by the CCP, and are insufficient to bring down its rule, the MAC report said.
Taipei should observe how China’s pandemic policy affects the Taiwanese economy, including the livelihood of entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as how Taiwanese businesspeople returning from China can make a living in the nation, it said.
The government should also pay attention to potential supply chain disruptions, shrinking cross-strait trade and rising prices of goods due to the pandemic policy, it said.
However, a declining GDP, supply chain disruptions, rising prices due to supply chain realignment, a slump in China’s service sector, higher unemployment and loss of investment might be an “acceptable cost” for the CCP, as it primarily seeks political stability, the MAC report said.
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