The technology behind China’s COVID-19 apps is neither homegrown nor cutting-edge, while pandemic control across the country still relies on the old governance model of social control through immense manpower.
As many countries struggle to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, China supposedly has the virus under control. However, the beginning of the outbreak in Wuhan was a different story; one that revealed the weaknesses of the seemingly effective authoritarian power.
China now talks about a “dual-cycle” of development that means less dependence on foreign markets and greater domestic demand. Only by stabilizing employment can the country effectively develop and sustain demand. But current rates of growth suggest stabilizing employment will be a tough ask.
As ever stricter media controls and mass surveillance take root in China, gaining a clear picture of Chinese society is difficult. In this commentary for Echowall, writer Wen Kejian suggests that social resistance will continue to exist alongside state efforts at stability preservation.
For Wuhan, the period of full closure and containment has passed. But the actions taken to respond to the epidemic, including the mobilizing of new technologies and mass monitoring of the population, will have a lasting impact on people’s lives.
Spurring consumer spending now lies at the heart of efforts by Chinese policymakers to tackle economic challenges. But while liberating the desire for consumption at first seemed to be good news, the darker side of borrowing to spend, particularly for China's youth, is now becoming more apparent.