How does the Largest Lockdown of China Look? Cautiously Positive!

Avatar for Yan Wang

I am from Xi’an in the center of China, and live in the Netherlands for a while. Since January, I have been following every news about COVID-19. The official statistics from today from the Chinese online healthcare community – DXY – where you could check the number of corona virus cases of each country globally, shows that the current number of people in China who are tested positive have reduced to 9,993 from 81,079, this indicates China is now recovering after two-month of lockdown. Of course, the statistics also rely on the number of tests performed.

In this post, I would like to share some interesting findings from the lockdown in China.

You may wonder, with the largest quarantine in human history, how strict is the lockdown in China?

Artificial intelligence (AI)

To protect healthcare staff, China has tackled the virus with 5G robots and 3D-printed supplies. CloudMinds, the leading company of cloud-based systems for intelligent robots, has donated 5G Cloud Robots to hospitals in Wuhan and Shanghai to limit the very high contagion risk. These cute/smart robots are tasked with taking patients’ temperatures, facial recognition, delivering medical supplies and meals, and disinfecting the facility. AI-backed voice assistants also remind people to wear masks.

Besides the shut down of schools, offices, part of the public transportation, restaurants, and entertainment facilities, the lockdown was also limiting the private mobility of residents. Everyone was limited of going out from the checkpoints of building entrances. Security guards, at some apartments, kept residents from entering and exiting. Station employees need to monitor the temperature with thermal scanners of those who pass through the station’s gates. “The thermometer can detect abnormal body temperatures within a 30-meter radius in less than one second” said Qu Bo, deputy general manager of the Heilongjiang-based company. Of course, if people take paracetamol an otherwise feverish person might pass undetected.

The joint intervention of legal means & military aid

“China’s bold approach to contain the rapid spread of this new respiratory pathogen has changed the course of a rapidly escalating and deadly epidemic,” quoted from the report – ‘Report of the WHO-China joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)’. In Wuhan, some people have volunteered to go door-to-door for temperature checking and those found with fever were sent to a quarantine center immediately. Armies were deployed to ensure compliance with the city lockdown and assist the distribution of medical equipment.

In addition, everyone traveling back to China needs to report to the local community following a 14 days self-quarantine. Any violation of that would be filed as a legal case. The local police in Beijing is now investigating a new patient found on the 15th of March. According to the People’s Daily (the largest newspaper group in China), this patient hid his traveling history of entry-exit to the local community. And, there was no self-quarantine after a return from Thailand to China.

Online teaching

Besides online telecommuting, to ensure schooling without risking contagion, DingTalk (owned by Alibaba), the most popular online telecommuting App in China, has successfully expanded its business into online teaching. DingTalk supports online classes and online testing with a capacity of 300 students. More than 50 million students have now signed up.

Online grocery

Online grocery has multiplied in sales. Consumers in China are now turning to online groceries for daily food supply. Carrefour reported an increase by 600% for vegetable deliveries during the Lunar New Year 2020., one of the Chinese dominant online retailers, also reviewed the growth of its online grocery sales – by 215% – between late January and early February (which is observed as the critical rising period of COVID-19 in China).

Under such strict lockdown, traditional retail is urged to transform to online retail, which stimulates product content innovation

LVMH, the world leader in luxury, recorded a negative 95 million US dollars net profit from the impact of the coronavirus. Traditional retailers are now forced to embrace online communication and online sales. Prada has just officially joined Tmall (a subsidiary of Alibaba). Delvaus, the Belgian manufacturer of fine leather goods, for the first time in its history is now in partnership with to launch its official online shop in China. Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton follows the trend to join the WeChat (Chinese multi-purpose messaging, social media and mobile payment app developed by Tencent) to increase online awareness.

Aimee Kim, the board member from McKinsey, stated that for luxury brands to attract online shoppers, it is recommended to digitally apply the offline shopping experiences into online sales. Brands can use AI (artificial intelligence) to create virtual reality tools for fitting services and individualize the online shopping experience. In addition, brands intend to use positive content to increase brand reputation and generate sales. Nike, shows the change in their slogan from “just do it” to “just don’t quit”, in response to the lockdown and to encourage people to continue their regular exercise. Huawei, also offers its intelligent telecommuting platform – WeLink, free of charge from the 25th of January 2020 to the 1st of June 2020.

Resilience of the Chinese economy

“In general, the impact of corona the virus on the Chinese economy will remain short-term and temporary,” said Congliang Chang, Secretary-General of National Development and Reform Commission. He also mentioned that consumption in China has not completely stopped but is just postponed. Online shopping, online teaching, telecommuting, online entertainment, and intelligent manufacturing have shown counter-cyclical growth, which shows the resilience and potential of the Chinese economy.

Stay positive but cautious!

All in all, I believe the strict lockdown in China is necessary. I am from China and very proud and impressed of how the whole country could shut down the economy for a while to collectively fight the corona virus. All my friends in China are aware of how to protect themselves, the elderly and the vulnerable, and their beloved ones. It is NOT just another flu!

Yes, there is fear and there is death. But, even Wuhan, is now recovering. So, stay positive, but cautious!

*Another interesting finding is observed in the divorce rate. My home city, Xi’an, reported a high divorce rate after the virus. It is reported that the few local marriage registration offices are fully booked for divorces. Family conflicts during the lockdown are considered the trigger since most couples have to stay 24/7 for months on end. Good for them for opening new journeys in life!

Avatar for Yan Wang

Region manager of Icecat, MSc in Business Administration

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