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Nov 5, 2021
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Coronavirus: China is quarantining cargo from Russia, where one of the worst situations with a pandemic is

Photo: trucks at the Russian-Chinese checkpoint "Pogranichny" on the border with Heilongjiang province.

In the photo: trucks at the Russian-Chinese checkpoint “Pogranichny” on the border with Heilongjiang province. (Photo: Yuri Smityuk / TASS)

The high incidence of covid among Russians is forcing the Chinese to gradually abandon our products and look for other procurement markets. So far, the border between our countries is not completely closed for cargo and passengers. But the intensified checks of Russian carriers by Chinese customs officials led to powerful congestion at the border.

Due to downtime, domestic carriers lose tens, if not hundreds of millions of rubles every day.

At the Zabaikalsk – Manchuria checkpoint alone, daily losses average 40 million rubles, IT Media reports, citing data from transport and logistics companies.

Almost a thousand trucks are waiting in line to cross this border crossing. Each day of truck downtime costs transport workers an average of 40 thousand rubles or 500 euros. And this is not the only automobile border crossing where queues have become more of a tradition.

Border congestion has led to an increase in the cost of various product categories. Especially the food items rose in price. And the queues at the border crossings between Russia and China are only increasing.

Carriers associate the formation of queues at the cordon with the restrictions imposed by the Chinese side due to the new wave of the pandemic. There are cases when individual consignments of goods are checked by the State Customs Administration for 2-3 months. This is due to the position of the Chinese authorities on zero tolerance for COVID-19: everything is checked very carefully to avoid new local outbreaks. And the tension at the border is only growing – there is a seasonal increase in freight traffic on the eve of the New Year holidays.

– The movement of goods has not completely stopped yet: due to local outbreaks of COVID-19, individual border posts were closed for disinfection in December, but then they reopened, and there were always alternative routes for delivery, notes President of the Russian-Asian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RASPP) Vitaly Mankevich:

– We estimate the likelihood of a complete closure of the border as rather low: the trade turnover between our countries is significant, and the consequences of its docking for the economy are unpredictable. At the moment, the transport collapse is influenced by many factors: these are sanitary and epidemiological checks of Russian cargo for traces of COVID-19, which is associated with the zero-tolerance policy in China and the new outbreak of coronavirus in Russia, as well as in connection with the energy crisis in China: coal exports have increased , which overloaded the railway and reoriented part of the transport to road transport, which stood in a narrow “neck of the bottle” due to low throughput.

Already, decisive measures are being taken, for example, they announced the reconstruction of the Lesovodsk-Khulin checkpoint in the Primorsky Territory, however, they plan to open it no earlier than December 2022.

– China will continue to spin up all its logistics capacities at its borders. Customs checks will be strengthened, including for coronavirus. And since Russia is one of the most dangerous countries for China, then any cargo from our country, both commercial and food, will be checked even more strongly than they have been checked so far, ”believes Alexey Maslov, Director of the Institute for Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences:

– This situation began to develop at the beginning of the year. That is, it could be predicted.

Firstly, it all started with the trade in Russian fish, since the remains of the coronavirus were found in the package with frozen fish, then many Russian cargoes were simply deployed at customs in the ports of China, as a result of which many Russian ones suffered very serious damage. Considering that the fish trade in the Far East is focused specifically on China, it happened so historically, this was a very serious blow. And then there was a lot of talk about the fact that this was a conspiracy of China against Russian products.

But now we see that this is just a continuation of the situation on the introduction by the Chinese of “zero tolerance” standards. It is being implemented on the direct orders of regional Chinese officials. That is, this is not a centralized policy in China, but a regional one. All officials, customs officials for the supply of any cargo to China, including from Russia, have clear instructions on when to close the border or reduce the flow of goods. And this does not depend on the leadership of the country, the government. This customs service operates in a mechanical manner.

Therefore, deliveries have now been stopped, including from Russia. Also, supplies from other countries, for example, from Vietnam, have significantly decreased. The Burmese border in southern China has been closed because outbreaks of covid have been detected in Burma – aka Myanmar. And some of the products, mainly food, are delivered from Myanmar to China. This is also closed now.

Now China is preparing for its New Year, which will be, as you know, in late January – early February. And the worst thing is if now, during the period of vacations and displacement, those cases of covid disease, which are still local, will become global for China.

So far, China has a very clear statement. This is a literal translation from Chinese: “local virus activation”. In total, there have been about 550 such cases in China over the past few months. This is a slight increase, although on a Russian scale it is not a serious outbreak (we now have about 40 thousand daily – ed.).

China is not saying that it is entering a new streak of outbreaks. And since Russia is one of the most dangerous countries for China, then any cargo from our country, both commercial and food, will be checked even more strongly than they have been checked so far.

“SP”: – And why is Russia the most dangerous country for China?

– Firstly, because we have one of the highest incidence rates. And secondly, Russia and China have a direct open border. That is, it is believed that if the goods are delivered by sea, then within a few days the person is already essentially in quarantine. If there was a flash, then it will manifest itself.

Let me remind you that the quarantine period in China is 21 days. Moreover, foreigners are held in rather harsh conditions. This means that, for example, in the south of China, quarantine rooms with bars, and plastic dishes are given out there, so that people in quarantine due to deprivation (reduction or complete deprivation of the ability to satisfy basic needs – psychophysiological or social) do not harm themselves. It turns out that Russia is the most contact country with China with the highest incidence rate.

This could seriously affect the supply of goods, and especially foodstuffs to China. Because today we see that in China, due to a partial crop failure this year, the need for food has increased. China is heavily subsidizing these purchases. Therefore, there is currently no rise in food prices in China. And, it would seem, right now is the time to break through to the Chinese market. But, there are such subtleties. Of course, there are workarounds, but they always add to the cost of delivery.

Secondly, China will probably now switch to other procurement markets. It is for foreign ones. We are talking about Vietnam, Peru and Latin America in general, where China is extremely active.

“SP”: – China chooses a less dangerous alternative to Russia in terms of covid?

– This, oddly enough, is not an alternative to Russia, but to the United States. Food supplies from Russia are extremely small. China clearly wants to get rid of its commodity dependence on the United States. But the USA still gives reasonable prices and, at least, gives large consignments of goods, one does not have to look for everything in detail. Nevertheless, since last year, China has been actively working with supplies from Latin America, very actively. Plus, he works quite actively with the countries of Southeast Asia, which he previously considered as secondary – Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia. So far, we can assume that all this may lead to a noticeable increase in prices for transportation and import of goods to China. Least.

“SP”: – Winter Olympic Games, scheduled for February 2022 in China – under threat? Will this cause a powerful increase in passenger traffic from outside?

– The Olympic Games will definitely take place, just now in China they are deciding in what form to hold them. Or according to the Tokyo model – in a limited crane. Or it can be carried out on a large scale, but with very large restrictions on attending all these events.

And further. On November 8, a plenum of the CPC Central Committee opens in China. This is a very important plenum, because there, as many assume, will be adopted a document on the achievements of China over the past 100 years (because the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party), and which, it is assumed, can significantly change the general situation in the ideology of China. Including, the role of Xi Jinping… And against this background, the Chinese are extremely cautious about all outbreaks of coronavirus, because this, at least, will worsen the social situation.

“SP”: – And the deterioration of the economic situation due to the pandemic does not threaten China anymore?

– The Chinese are not afraid of the economic crisis, which, of course, is very distant, but of disappointed expectations. Because in April last year, the coronavirus was formally defeated, and a colossal, unprecedented rise in the economy began. GDP growth reached 18%. And of course, many have assumed that China will develop rapidly until global markets open up and China returns to export supplies. But it is clear that the pandemic continues.

And here is the model that was outlined, it has not taken place at the moment. And as a result, one must understand that China is now, that people who intended to open their new industries, primarily small and medium-sized businesses, can now raise a wave of social discontent. And just on the eve of the epoch-making decisions of the party – this is not the best that can be.

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