Hospitals in the United States are on high alert, with some doctors prioritizing patients in critical condition as the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai has caused a global shortage of chemicals used in medical imaging.
Some of the largest U.S. hospitals said earlier this month they were facing significant shortages of iodinated contrast media products, which are dyes given to patients so that their internal organs and vessels can be picked up by CT scans, X-rays, and radiography.
U.S. health care facilities aren't alone in feeling the economic consequences. From Apple, Microsoft, and Tesla, to Adidas, Estée Lauder, and Starbucks, global companies have warned of the spillover effects of China’s protracted COVID-19 lockdowns.
As of May 10, some 41 cities across the country were under partial or full lockdown, according to estimates by Japanese bank Nomura, accounting for almost 30 percent of China’s economic output.
Production DisruptedWith factory workers and consumers stuck at home and many businesses forced to suspend operations, China’s export growth last month was at a two-year low. Exports in dollar terms decelerated to 3.9 percent in April from a year earlier, tumbling from a 14.7 percent growth in March, China’s customs reported on May 9.
“Closed loop productions are inacceptable as a long-term solution for German companies to operate in China,” Maximilian Butek, the executive director of the chamber, said in a statement.
Wary InvestorsStrict COVID-19 curbs and the resulting supply chain chaos have rattled foreign business confidence, according to several surveys by foreign lobby groups.
“Revenue forecasts for this year are down, but, more worryingly, members don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel,” said AmCham China Chairman Colm Rafferty in the statement.
The survey, conducted in late April, found that nearly a quarter of the 372 respondents were considering moving current or planned investments out of China, more than double the number at the beginning of the year. About 60 percent of businesses have cut their business revenue projections this year, while 92 percent said they had been affected by recent port closures, a decline in road freight, and rising sea freight costs.
Stronger ReverberationsAt a May 5 meeting of the Chinese Communist Party’s most powerful body, the Politburo Standing Committee, Chinese leader Xi Jinping issued warnings against anyone who criticized, questioned, or distorted the regime’s zero-COVID policy.
“We have won the battle to defend Wuhan,” Xi said, according to the official news outlet Xinhua. “We can certainly win the battle to defend greater Shanghai.”
Economists have repeatedly warned of the consequences of the strict COVID-19 curbs. Top Chinese economist Xu Jianguo warned at a May 8 webinar that the economic impact of the latest outbreak was 10 times more severe than in early 2020, when the regime initially locked down Wuhan, South China Morning Post reported.
He estimated the curbs, including lockdown and travel restrictions, have cost the country $2.68 trillion this year, the report said.
Even with the threat of exodus by foreign investors and a possible economic recession, the communist regime will not give up its zero-COVID policy, as maintaining its power is its ultimate priority, according to Xie. He said that in the worst-case scenario, China could end up going back to being a planned economy.
Gordon Chang, author and a senior fellow of Gatestone Institute, said Xi is likely to double down on his zero-COVID policy if he secures an unprecedented third term in office at an important party conclave this autumn.
“China is determined to apply Mao Zedong's man over nature narrative,” Chang said in a recent interview with The Epoch Times. “It just isn’t working.”