At midnight on Friday, the 25 million or so residents of Shanghai began to emerge from two months lockdown imposed by authorities to stem the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant of Covid-19. China has consistently adopted a strict lockdown policy, shutting down communities hit by the virus.
While the reopening of the city will be carried out in stages, the lockdown’s end marks a very positive milestone in the global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic of these past 26 months.
The reopening of Shanghai is not something that should be only celebrated within China itself — the city became the nation’s largest because of importance in manufacturing and trade and is a key hub in the global supply chain. Everything from consumer goods to automobiles, domestic appliances, electronics, mobile phones — anything and everything that makes the global logistics and supply chain move — is dependent on the thriving and economically vibrant city, itself a centre of international finance.
This phased return to normality is important. It is a reminder indeed that wherever we are in the world, we are critically dependent upon each cog of the wheel of global trade, working together to ensure that national economies thrive as a result of their international links.
The region around Shanghai is an important producer of computer chips found in almost every product that are sold around the world today. Indeed, the shortage of computer chips, exacerbated by the two-month lockdown that was necessary to protect the city’s residents from Covid-19, has resulted in delays in goods coming to market as well as shortages — adding to inflationary pressures.
China, as the world’s second-largest global economy, is critical to the world’s prosperity. With Shanghai out of action, the knock-on effect was felt in international markets. Now, with shops opening again, factories starting up production lines, orders for parts being able to be fulfilled, buyers making new orders, suppliers selling their parts and products — all elements together ensure that we can now look forward to a return to growth.
For those who live in the city, schools will allow children into their classrooms, supermarkets and stores will open up their shutters and life will again return to the busy and productive ways that have ensured Shanghai’s continued prosperity down through the years.
The lockdown too serves as a reminder that the world we live in has changed. We can no longer assume that things we took for granted will always be as they were. No, this is a changed world, where our public health cannot be taken for granted.