Zero- COVID-19 at what price? Chinese researchers are treading on sensitive ground

Sep 12, 2022, 8:20 AM | Updated: 2:22 pm
SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 08: People walk by a closed store at a neighborhood designated as a medium-r...
SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 08: People walk by a closed store at a neighborhood designated as a medium-risk area on July 8, 2022 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
(Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

(CNN) — Authorities in Shanghai have denied a report by a leading Chinese real estate research firm that claimed more than a third of shops in a major mall had been shuttered because of strict COVID-19 curbs.

The report by China Real Estate Information Corp. (CRIC), published late last month, quickly went viral. It claimed that vacancy rates in the city’s malls were surging to an alarming level because of the restrictions and said 34% of shops were closed in a landmark mall in Shanghai’s Lujiazui financial district.

On average, 9% of shops in Shanghai’s 20 major malls have been closed since the COVID-19 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.

Shanghai was under a strict lockdown for two months earlier this yearand continues to face restrictions in parts of the city where new cases have flared up.

In recent weeks, the Chinese government has significantly tightened COVID-19 restrictions to contain the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Analysts say that the country is unlikely to relax its COVID-19 rules before the Communist Party congress beginning on October 16.

President Xi Jinping, who is expected to seek an unprecedented third term, will not want to see any uncontrollable rise in COVID-19 cases until his political future is secured, according to experts.

But the restrictions are hurting the economy — analysts are forecasting growth of just 3% this year — and leading to rising public discontent on the internet. In recent days, many social media users have complained about the havoc caused by frequent lockdowns and endless testing, from food shortages to poor job and income prospects.

Reports withdrawn

The CRIC report isn’t the only piece of economic research on COVID-19 to come under scrutiny recently in China.

A Chinese investment bank’s report about COVID-19 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.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

World News

An aerial view of destroyed buildings on Oct. 3, 2022, in Izium, Ukraine. Izium is still without el...
Adam Schreck and Vasilisa Stepanenko, Associated Press

Russian losses evident in key liberated Ukrainian city

The bodies of Russian soldiers are lying in the streets of a key city in eastern Ukraine following their comrades' retreat that has marked the latest defeat for Moscow.
4 months ago
FILE: North Koraen Leader Kim Jong Un (Photo by Korea Summit Press Pool/Getty Images)...
Yoonjung Seo, Emiko Jozuka, Brad Lendon and Simone McCarthy, CNN

North Korea launches missile over Japan, sending residents to shelter

Japan urged residents to take shelter early Tuesday morning after North Korea fired at least one ballistic missile over the north of the country.
4 months ago
Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury during the first half in Game Four of the 2021 WNBA semi...

Russian court sets Brittney Griner appeal date for Oct. 25

A Russian court has set a date for American basketball star Brittney Griner’s appeal against her nine-year prison sentence for drug possession.
4 months ago
FILE: Ukrainian tank crew trains with infantry near Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Ukraine. (Photo by John ...
Jon Gambrell, Associated Press

Ukrainian troops claim gains in Russia-annexed region

Ukrainian troops pushed forward with their offensive that has embarrassed Moscow, with Kyiv officials and foreign observers hinting at new gains in the southern strategic region of Kherson.
4 months ago
Arema football club supporters light candles as they pray for the victims on October 02, 2022 in Ma...
Masrur Jamaluddin, Heather Chen, Raja Razek, Jake Kwon and Kareem El Damanhoury, CNN

At least 130 killed in Indonesia soccer stadium stampede

Arema football club supporters light candles as they pray for the victims on October 02, 2022 in Malang, Indonesia. A stampede for the exits after tear gas was released has resulted in at least 170, media reports said, with many still injured in hospitals.
4 months ago
The crowd gathering at Washington Square to march to the Utah Capitol....
Brittany Tait

Crowd marched to Utah State Capitol in solidary with Iran

A large crowd marched from Washington Square to the steps of the Utah State Capitol on Saturday to show solidarity for those suffering in Iran.
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Ask these questions before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Cloud storage technology with 3d rendering drawer with files in cloud...
PC Laptops

How backing up your computer can help you relieve stress

Don't wait for something bad to happen before backing up your computer. Learn how to protect your data before disaster strikes.
young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Zero- COVID-19 at what price? Chinese researchers are treading on sensitive ground