Shanghai scraps some Covid testing rules in latest policy relaxation

China’s financial hub of Shanghai is to scrap some testing requirements from Monday, in the country’s latest relaxation of its zero-Covid policy after nationwide protests. Several cities have rolled back some restrictions after public resentment at the harsh and prolonged lockdown reached a boiling point last weekend, when spontaneous protests broke out. Such unrest had not been seen for decades. Shanghai residents will no longer need a 48-hour negative test result to use public transport or enter outdoor venues such as parks and tourist attractions, authorities said in a WeChat…

Canada and China prepare to open Cop15 biodiversity summit despite rifts

More than 10,000 scientists, government officials and activists will gather in Montreal this week for the world’s most important biodiversity conference, eager to hammer out a deal to stem habitat loss around the world and preserve sensitive ecosystems. The UN Cop15 biodiversity summit opens on Tuesday, and will see countries negotiate this decade’s targets for protecting nature after more than two years of pandemic-related delays and just over two weeks since the end of the Cop27 climate meeting in Egypt. There is growing hope that the summit will not only…

Fears of deadly infection surge as China abandons zero-Covid policy

The portable PCR testing booth dangled in the air over a dark Beijing street, captured on camera as it was winched away by a crane in the middle of the night. The image spread rapidly across Chinese social media, the perfect symbol of the bewilderingly rapid end of a draconian era. In the face of the most widespread national protests since the bloody crackdown on Tiananmen Square demonstrators in 1989, the Chinese government has abruptly abandoned its flagship zero-Covid policy. In Beijing, people prepared to go into shopping malls or…

China’s Xi Jinping ‘unwilling’ to accept western Covid vaccines says US intelligence chief

Chinese leader Xi Jinping is unwilling to accept western vaccines despite the challenges China is facing with Covid-19, and while recent protests there are not a threat to Communist party rule, they could affect his personal standing, US director of national intelligence Avril Haines said. Although China’s daily Covid cases are near all-time highs, some cities are taking steps to loosen testing and quarantine rules after Xi’s zero-Covid policy triggered a sharp economic slowdown and public unrest opposing Covid-19 lockdowns. Haines, speaking at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in…

Zero-Covid policy is costing China its role as the world’s workshop

The anti-lockdown unrest gripping China has forced the authorities in Beijing to respond by easing some restrictions in big manufacturing centres, as they map out a “new stage and mission” in the country’s deeply unpopular zero-Covid policy. There are concerns that more freedom of movement could allow the virus to rip through a population where immunity is lower than in the west. Those health risks mean the “world’s workshop” is heading for a difficult winter, casting a shadow over the prospects for international trade. Western companies have learned lessons from…

China’s easing of Covid curbs does not solve Xi Jinping’s dilemma

At the end of October, Xi Jinping had secured his position as China’s most powerful leader in decades, his grip on the country cemented by a norm-breaking third term in office. At the end of November, he faced the most widespread protests China had seen in decades, mostly focused on Covid restrictions but also featuring unprecedented calls for Xi to step down. It was an extraordinary juxtaposition of political authority and vulnerability within the space of a month, and one that no one inside or outside the country had foreseen.…

China continues lifting Covid restrictions despite near-record case numbers

Covid-19 testing booths were removed in Beijing on Friday, while Shenzhen followed other cities in announcing it would no longer require commuters to present their test results to travel, as an easing of Covid restrictions in China gathered pace. As daily cases hovered near all-time highs, some cities took steps to loosen coronavirus testing requirements and quarantine rules as China looks to make its zero-Covid policy more targeted amid an economic slowdown and public frustration that has boiled over into unrest. Cities including Guangzhou and Beijing have taken the lead…

New Zealand woman takes Chinese media site to human rights tribunal over ban

A woman is taking New Zealand’s biggest Chinese-language media site to a human rights review tribunal after she claims she was banned from its online message board for posting political content. May Moncur migrated from China 20 years ago and is a permanent resident of New Zealand. The Auckland employment advocate has used the New Zealand-based media company SkyKiwi for more than 15 years, regularly posting links about migrant exploitation or offering employment advice on its most popular message board, “FML”. The company promotes itself as the most influential Chinese…

Vaccines are key to China’s zero-Covid exit but scepticism poses challenge

China’s government looks to be starting to roll back its zero-Covid policy. But after three years of saying the resource-intensive, economically damaging elimination strategy is the only way to go, experts say it will be a medical and political challenge to end it. Much of China’s exit strategy is riding on vaccinations, but this is where Beijing has great challenges. China’s elderly population is disproportionately unvaccinated, leaving tens of millions of vulnerable people at far greater risk from the ravages of Covid-19. About 90% of China’s population is vaccinated, but…

Winnie the Pooh joins Chinese Covid lockdown protests

Years after he became character non grata in China, Winnie the Pooh is exacting quiet revenge against the country’s government in the form of Disney souvenirs. In what appears to be a case of incidental resistance, Disney stores in Japan are selling a line of merchandise featuring a frowning Pooh looking at a blank sheet of white paper – a symbol of ongoing protests in China against censorship and Covid-19 restrictions. The range, designed by the Japanese illustrator Kanahei, shows the image – taken from a scene in a 2011…