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Coronavirus in China. China continues to live, and the media sow panic
Orientalist Andrei Ostrovsky - about whether Wuhan pneumonia is so terrible, as they write about it
The number of people infected and dying from a new strain of coronovirus in China is growing every day, Russia closes border crossings, restricts rail connections and plans to cancel flights to China, and panic messages appear in the media. Andrei Ostrovsky, an orientalist, head of the Center for Economic and Social Research of China at the Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told EastRussia about how terrible Wuhan pneumonia is and how it will affect the economy.
- Andrew Vladimirovich. In your opinion, how inflated is the situation with coronavirus in China in the media?
- Enough bloated. 17 years ago there was SARS and problems in China, then these problems were solved in a half to two months. I think that this year will be the same. We also have epidemics. Onishchenko correctly said that while the population of China is 1 billion 400 million people so far about 2,5 thousand cases of the disease and about 56 deaths are negligible.
Our borders have been closed, maybe that’s right, especially since our sanitation is not all right when it comes to cities and markets. Usually all diseases spread from them. So in Wuhan, everything went from the large market of Huanan water products, the source has already been identified. Now the source needs to be closed, restrict entry and exit to city and introduce quarantine measures for one and a half to two months.
- When do you think the situation with coronavirus will come to naught?
- In one and a half to two months. This is enough time. China continues to live, and many media are fanning the situation and spreading panic.
- By the way, about the panic - there are a lot of fakes about the coronavirus and its spread. What do you think, why do such stuffing?
- The press loves to aggravate, and in the West now everything that concerns China is covered in an extremely negative light. All this is done in order to once again prick the PRC, to show that they have a disease, that there is nothing civilized there.
- Will the outbreak of coronavirus and subsequent events affect the Chinese economy?
- In 2003, when there was SARS, the gross domestic product growth rate in China was at 10%. This year will be about the same. Of course, 10% will not be, but, in my opinion, 5,5-6% should be expected. The coronavirus will not seriously affect the PRC economy; it will only slightly affect some areas. They emerged from poverty, practically built a “small prosperity society” - what else do they need? And epidemics happen everywhere.
- This week, Far Eastern fishermen reported that because of the coronavirus, the export of crab to China was reduced, which is why they are already losing. There are problems in tourism. Will it affect the Russian economy?
- Cities have practically died out - everyone is sitting at home, they don’t go anywhere, because they are afraid of getting infected. Everything is logical. It is clear that exporters are afraid of losing revenue. As for tourism, tour operators export Russian tourists from Hainan, but according to statistics, six thousand people rest there. The Russians are not actively going to rest there. Basically, this destination is popular with the Far East, the rest is expensive to go to Hainan, one flight is how much it costs. And from Moscow it is more convenient to travel to Turkey, Egypt, Europe. Few people travel to China, if only on business trips. Therefore, there’s no reason to wait for large losses, only the tourism market of Siberia and the Far East, where a smaller and far from the most prosperous part of the Russian population lives, will suffer losses.
- And speaking of the reverse tourist flow. Will Russia lose a lot due to the closure of checkpoints with China?
- Now the flow of tourists from China has decreased, the planes will be half empty. Usually they are always full when flying from China to Russia - there are never empty seats, and 9/10 passengers are Chinese. For the next six months, coronavirus will definitely affect our tourism industry. But again, this will affect most of the Far East, as it is located in the neighborhood, although it will significantly affect Moscow and St. Petersburg, since these cities are visited by almost all tourist groups.
- Do you agree with the opinion that the situation in China will improve after the completion of the extended holidays associated with the celebration of the Chinese New Year?
- Of course, it will improve, but not immediately, now the trips have closed in most of the country, the streets of the cities are empty - people sit at home, do not go anywhere.
- And how do the people of China themselves regarding the situation with coronavirus?
- As usual - calmly. "What to do? It so happened, we must take action. ” All residents of China are running shopping, buying masks, which are already in great shortage. Still, the country's population is 1,4 billion people. But now everyone is sitting at home, government measures are restricting migration, there are few movements.