China zero-Covid: Chinese researchers tread on sensitive ground
On average, 9% of shops in Shanghai’s 20 major malls have been closed since the Covid situation worsened in the second quarter, significantly higher than the 5% level at which the malls’ overall operations would be affected, according to the research firm.
The Shanghai Observer, a website run by the Shanghai government’s official newspaper, on Friday said the methodology used by CRIC was at odds with industry practice.
According to statistics it attributed to CBRE Group — a global commercial real estate service firm — the average vacancy rate in Shanghai’s malls was between 6.7% and 8.2% over the past three years. The Shanghai Observer also attacked some media outlets who picked up the report for “exaggerating the truth” and “taking the numbers out of context.”
CRIC and CBRE did not respond to requests for comment.
President Xi Jinping, who is expected to seek an unprecedented third term, will not want to see any uncontrollable rise in Covid cases until his political future is secured, according to experts.
The CRIC report isn’t the only piece of economic research on Covid to come under scrutiny recently in China.
A Chinese investment bank’s report about Covid was deleted shortly after it was published last week, generating a flurry of speculation online that it might have been censored.
Nanjing-based Huatai Securities pointed out in its report on Wednesday that the Omicron BA.5 subvariant has caused fewer deaths than flu in several countries and regions, such as Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea and Hong Kong.
Huatai Securities did not immediately respond to requests for comments.
And last month, Anbound Consulting, a Beijing-based economic research firm, published a report on its Weibo and WeChat accounts that was entitled “it’s time for China to change its Covid policy.” That report was removed from both platforms a day later.
— CNN’s Beijing bureau contributed to this report.