Hong Kong under pressure . . .
Hundreds of medical workers in Hong Kong went on strike Monday demanding the government shut its border completely to mainland China to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. In a statement, the Hospital Authority Employee Alliance, whose 2,400 members joined the strike, said it hopes “that these strikes will make the government respond to our five demands, most importantly to stop the spread of the coronavirus in Hong Kong.” The city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam, however, insisted that Hong Kong would not close its borders with China, saying such a measure would be discriminatory. Hong Kong has implemented a partial closure of 10 of 13 border checkpoints to the mainland.
Heightened border controls . . .
Several countries have imposed strict travel restrictions to and from China. The United States, Australia, and Singapore have started denying entry for all foreign visitors who have recently travelled to China, while Russia and Mongolia have partially closed off their borders with China. While Canada has yet to shut out Chinese nationals, Global Affairs Canada has issued warnings for travel to China, and Air Canada has halted all flights to the PRC.
China’s economy at risk . . .
As multiple cities across China experience full or partial lockdowns, the risk of an economic downturn looms large. On the first day of trading after the extended Lunar New Year holiday, China’s stock markets plummeted eight per cent, with the Shanghai Composite Index dropping by 7.7 per cent and the Shenzhen Component index falling by nearly 8.5 per cent on Monday. In anticipation of an impending economic hit, the People’s Bank of China is injecting 1.2 trillion RMB (C$227 billion) into Chinese markets to boost banks’ ability to lend. The anticipated coronavirus-induced slowdown comes as China recorded its slowest economic growth in three decades last year. With increasing travel restrictions imposed on China amid the outbreak, the Chinese economy is anticipated to face a strong downwind at the start of the Year of the Rat.