Why does China need freedom

The future of China is well guarded in the Beijing suburb of Daxing. Far in the south, where the capital is gradually fraying, tractors chugging along country lanes and farmers sweeping up the leaves on the roadside, the state-owned pharmaceutical company Sinopharm has built a new industrial building. The area is surrounded by high walls, reinforced with barbed wire. The entrance gate is blocked by a massive steel grille.

Only those who are registered are allowed in. A security guard ticks off lists, shows IDs and the Corona app. One last look in the face to make sure that the mask is sitting correctly. Maybe 50, 60 people are. They wait silently, you can hear the yellow barrier tape fluttering in the wind.

Nobody is allowed to tell what happens in the building, how one is invited in the first place. You have to sign a confidentiality agreement. And yet information is gradually seeping out: Here, behind the gate in Daxing, vaccinations are taking place. Against Corona.

While there has been almost something like euphoria in Europe and the United States in recent days after Biontech and Pfizer announced that a vaccine would soon be approved, hundreds of thousands of Chinese have had injections in the past few weeks. The People's Republic is secretly working its way out of the Corona crisis.

The country where the virus broke out in late 2019 is about to be the first to deal with it. There have been hardly any new infections in China for months, and life and economic activities have normalized. The strict measures to contain the coronavirus, such as cordoning off megacities, strict isolation and entry bans, have proven to be effective. Everyday life has returned in China, there is no second wave like in Europe.

In February, the leadership in Beijing nearly frozen life in the People's Republic. Restaurants, factories, cinemas, schools, kindergartens - everything is closed. The government barricaded the metropolis of Wuhan and the surrounding province of Hubei. The economic slump in the first quarter was historic: a minus of 6.8 percent. For the first time since the quarterly figures began to be officially recorded in 1992, statisticians had seen a shrinking economy. At the beginning of the year there was great fear that the People's Republic could slide into recession for the first time since 1976. That year, state founder Mao Zedong had just died and the Cultural Revolution had ended. Zhongtai Securities estimated that 70 million Chinese could have lost their jobs in the meantime.

Economists now assume that China will be the only major economy that can end the year with growth. The recovery is going faster than expected, according to a forecast by the International Monetary Fund. According to this, the Chinese economic output will increase by 1.9 percent this year. The Monetary Fund expects growth of 8.2 percent for 2021.

The main driver of growth is industrial production. How many of the products are actually sold and what is initially stored is not entirely clear, however.

After a good six weeks of downtime, industrial production was ramped up all over the country, even at the place of origin of the corona virus. The Honda factory in Wuhan was the last car factory in the country to resume work on March 16, subject to strict hygiene precautions. Since then, everyone who enters the plant has been sprayed with high-proof alcohol and has a fever measured. Everyone in the factory wears a mask and protective suit. In addition, the common rooms, conference rooms and smoking areas have been closed. The workers eat in production, each at their own table. Plates, cups and chopsticks are then disposed of.

Almost at the same time, the People's Republic closed its borders for fear of re-importing the virus from abroad. Since then, hardly any international flights have landed in China, and those who arrive have to be in hotel quarantine for two weeks.

Since the second wave has been piling up in Europe, the Chinese authorities have tightened the travel rules: A negative Corona test result is no longer sufficient to be allowed to board the plane. In the meantime you also have to prove a negative antibody test, from the country from which you are flying to China. For example, anyone who is booked from Munich via Helsinki to Shanghai needs a Finnish test result. In reality, this means that only direct flights are possible. And they are rare. There are only a handful of connections per week.

"The tightening of entry regulations into the People's Republic of China is a major concern of the German economy. There is a risk that the new obligation to test multiple times, especially on flights with transit stations, will make important business trips completely impossible," complains BDI - Chief Executive Joachim Lang. "In practice, these restrictions are a de facto entry freeze for many companies." However, such complaints are not met with much understanding by the authorities in China.

The old, unspoken pact between the Communist Party and the Chinese people, which has existed since the bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, according to which the government ensures that the economy grows rapidly and that the Chinese do not in return Interfere with politics has faltered in the past few months. Instead, the leadership in Beijing is now loudly promising security. The People's Republic is the only state in the world that has successfully put down the corona virus, the only country that offers its citizens protection from this insidious disease, the propaganda proclaims.

No new corona cases, at no cost - that is the new guideline of politics. If there are isolated cases, entire cities are sent to the corona mass test: in summer Wuhan, in autumn the port city of Qingdao. In ten days, saliva samples will be collected from millions of Chinese. Waiting for hours for the smear. Because the vaccination in Daxing is still only available for selected groups.

First there were officials and workers who will soon be traveling abroad. Then the guards in front of the diplomatic missions and large residential complexes. They were brought to Daxing by bus from all over the country. Now students who are enrolled at a university outside of China are allowed to register. How effective the Chinese vaccinations are is unknown, as are any side effects.

"There are two syringes, you can choose to have the refresher on the seventh, 14th or 21st day," says a student who has just come out of the guarded building in Daxing. Her last name is Gao, that should be enough, she says. She will soon be leaving to study abroad. The flight has already been booked, it will start on November 20, to Europe, she says. She doesn't want to reveal where exactly. The confidentiality agreement.