Zero-Covid: China closes Huaqiangbei electronics market as Shenzhen imposes more lockdowns

Huaqiangbei, a bustling commercial area with thousands of stalls selling computer components, cellphone parts and microchips, is among three neighborhoods under a mandatory four-day lockdown in Futian District, according to the county government.

Residents of these neighborhoods are prohibited from leaving their homes, except for Covid tests, which they are required to undergo daily until Thursday.

All businesses in the affected areas are closed until Thursday, except for supermarkets, pharmacies and hospitals. Restaurant meals are also suspended, with only take-out allowed.

China is one of the last places in the world to enforce strict zero-Covid measures, which rely on extensive digital surveillance, mass testing, extensive quarantines and instant lockdowns.

On Tuesday, Shenzhen, an international tech hub of 18 million people, reported just 35 infections, including 11 asymptomatic cases.

The brutal approach has seen dozens of neighborhoods in Shenzhen identified as “high-risk areas” and placed under strict lockdown orders. Videos shared by residents on social media show metal barriers — some topped with barbed wire – erected outside residential buildings, preventing residents from leaving.

Luohu and Longgang districts also closed all entertainment venues and public parks, and banned gatherings ranging from lectures and performances to square dancing.

Authorities also suspended service at 24 metro stations and hundreds of bus stations in Shenzhen, including around the Huaqiangbei electronics market.
At a press conference on Monday, Shenzhen officials said the outbreak is mainly caused by the newer Omicron BF.15 subvariant, which they say is more transmissible and harder to detect.

“The coming period will be the most stressful, risky and darkest period for epidemic prevention and control in our city,” a Shenzhen official said at the press conference.

Huaqiangbei Commercial Zone in Shenzhen is home to the world's largest electronics wholesale market.

Epidemics across China

China’s zero-Covid strategy has faced increasing challenges from the highly infectious variant of Omicron, with large swaths of the country under continued lockdowns and daily testing.

Endless restrictions have disrupted daily life and dealt a severe blow to the slowing economy. In July, youth unemployment in China hit an all-time high, with one in five young people out of work.

chinese city
Earlier this month, Covid outbreaks in the tourist island of Hainan and the western regions of Xinjiang and Tibet trapped tens of thousands of tourists.
In the southwestern metropolis of Chongqing, authorities ordered mass Covid testing during record heat waveleaving millions of residents standing in the sun for hours as they battled extreme temperatures and power outages.
And this week, the neighboring province of Sichuan reported an upsurge in the virus. Chengdu, the provincial capital of 20 million people, identified 205 infections Tuesday, after authorities rolled out mass testing across the city. The outbreak, first reported last Thursday, was linked to a swimming pool, authorities said.

Amid fears of a prolonged citywide lockdown, Chengdu residents rushed to buy groceries and daily necessities from supermarkets.

In Shijiazhuang, the capital of northern China’s Hebei province, authorities suspended public transport across the city over the weekend after 30 infections were found during mass testing. The city is home to 11 million people.

In the northern port city of Tianjin, 20 infections were reported after citywide testing on Friday.

Leave a Comment