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