The extreme epidemic prevention and control policy has caused many unbelievable but completely true stories in China. Everyday activities have become a luxury for the residents of the cities under strict blockade.
The pro-Beijing newspaper Hk01 reported the extraordinary story of an adjunct professor in Shanghai. Recently, Lin Caiyi, deputy director of the China Chief Economic Forum Research Institute and former chief economist of the Huaan Foundation, was locked up at home in Shanghai due to China’s draconian epidemic prevention and control policies.
She posted on Weibo that her credit card bill in May was only 11.4 yuan ($1.71), causing even the bank to become suspicious. She said that: “people who say ‘you can buy anything with money’ have not experienced the situation where ‘money can’t buy anything,'” which has attracted a lot of comments from the Chinese public.
Epoch Times reported that Lin said on Weibo on May 17: “Today, the customer care manager of the private banking division of Merchants Bank of China called me from its headquarters in Shenzhen and asked, ‘Have you had any problems with the bank in terms of using your credit card in the last two months? I know this is a tactful question, and I guess she must have thought that I gave up my China Merchants Bank credit card and switched to another bank. Even if I went bankrupt or unemployed, my monthly bill would not be 11.4 yuan.
Lin continued: “I said to her: I have been locked at home for two months, and I have not spent money on anything. She asked, “Don’t you shop online? I said: Offline logistics have stopped. How can I buy things online? This 11.4 yuan is the monthly payment of Tencent Music, not the purchase of goods.”
Lin said that people had been asked to stay at home, consumption of all service industries had stopped, the logistics industry had also stopped, and even online orders of goods were not allowed; how many merchants could survive? People who haven’t been in Shanghai in the past two months really don’t understand the cost of a citywide lockdown.
Many financial media and netizens retweeted Lin Caiyi’s above comment on Weibo and added their comments.
According to the Epoch Times, the official Weibo account of Caijingwang Technology channel wrote that the monthly credit card bill of 11.4 yuan for individual users with assets over 10 million yuan is too little. This news channel also quoted a comment from a Chinese internet user: “Just continue to make people stay at home, continue with ‘zero covid,’ then you will see the price.”
According to public information, Lin Caiyi, now living in Shanghai, holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Fudan University, is an expert at the Shanghai New Financial Research Institute, and is the director of the China Chief Economic Forum, and a member of the Expert Advisory Committee of the China International Financial Forum; she has been engaged in economic and financial research for a long time.
A reporter from the Chinese website Finance Sina also found that in the past two months, the amount of usage through bank credit cards has been very low, even to the point where the cards should be ‘frozen.’ It is clear that Lin Caiyi’s is not a rare case.
Several interviewees in Shanghai told Sina reporters that their credit card bills had been very low for the past two months. Sina quoted Mr. Tang, who lives in Pudong, Shanghai, saying: “Since Shanghai closed at the end of March, my credit card basically has no transactions. Previously, my monthly bill normally exceeded 10,000 yuan.”
Ms. Wang, also of Pudong, Shanghai, told reporters that her credit card use dropped by nearly 80% in May. “The main reason is that there is no demand for large-scale shopping, and there is no express delivery, which has inhibited the consumption,” she said.
On Weibo, reporter Sina noticed that many netizens had similar messages. For example, some netizens left a message on Lin Caiyi’s Weibo, saying: “I really sympathize with you. My credit card bill this month has hit the lowest level since I started working. The credit card bill is currently 700 yuan on May 8.” 700 yuan is equivalent to about $105. On the same day, another netizen wrote on Weibo: “The past two months I have spent too little, apart from the rent, this month’s credit card bill is only 1000 yuan.” 1000 yuan is equivalent to about $150.
The closure of many cities on the mainland, especially Shanghai, has negatively impacted logistics, consumption, and production and has hit the economy hard. The Epoch Times, citing data from the Shanghai Bureau of Statistics, showed that the output value of large industrial enterprises fell more than 60% in April compared to the same period last year. In April, Shanghai’s retail sales of consumer goods nearly halved, with the accommodation and catering industry performing the worst.
According to data released by the Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Statistics, in April, large industrial enterprises in Shanghai had a total industrial output value of 128.617 billion yuan, a reduction of 61.5% compared to last year, in which state-owned enterprises decreased by 49.3%, while private enterprises decreased by 63%.
Hk01 cited data from the National Bureau of Statistics of China. In April, total retail sales of consumer goods were 2,948.3 billion yuan, down 11.1% year-on-year, a significant decrease. Retail sales of consumer goods excluding automobiles decreased by 8.4% over the same period last year. But officials stressed that the impact of the shock was “phased and temporary.”