Annoyed by the policy of “zero Covid”, Westerners are leaving the country

“Given the restrictions, it will be three years since we last saw our families! We have lived in China for almost eighteen years: my wife and I decided to take a long break from the summer and return in 2023. But with the current imprisonment, we tell ourselves that our departure will be final. »

For more than a month, Gregory Prudommo was confined to his residence in western Shanghai with the obligation to take daily tests. For this food business owner, also a foreign trade adviser in France, the new restrictions imposed by China’s Zero Covid policy are too many.

50% of European exiles would leave

He is not alone: ​​WeChat, a popular local messaging service, has many groups of foreigners set up to travel. “The big problem is that there are no planes! »explains Gregri Pryudmo.

In mid-April, Jörg Vukkte, president of the European Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, estimated that 50% of European exiles had left the country since the health crisis began. “I would not be surprised if half of those who remained will take turns”He confessed to American television in mid-April.

→ REVIEWS. In China, the trap “Zero Covid”.

Subsidiaries of foreign companies established in China are mortgage victims: since the end of March, just before the imprisonment in Shanghai, the American Chamber of Commerce in China reported that more than 80% of them had difficulty attracting and retaining international staff.

Retreat investments

Constant restrictions affect activity. “There is a very bad connection between Europe and China, a lot of teams that haven’t traveled in two years, more Gregory Prudommo. But China has changed dramatically over the past two years, and foreign companies have not necessarily integrated it. »

The wave of departures seems to spare the company. Large multinational companies such as Apple, Coca-Cola, General Electric or Pernod Ricard simply warned last week about the consequences of re-arrest, without announcing that they wanted to reduce their activities on the ground.

They must maintain the status quo in anticipation of a lull: in a large poll in early March, the US Chamber of Commerce stressed that most of its national companies intend to keep going but are holding back their investment.

So far there are no trends

Behavior that mimics the behavior of professional, cautious investors. The Institute of International Finance, which monitors global capital movements, noted a wave of reflux in late March. “unprecedented”, which is partly due to the fear of repression after the invasion of Ukraine and the troubled role that China is playing along with Russia. Data collected by Reuters in April confirm the outflow of capital in stock markets, but to a lesser extent than in March.

Some investors speculate that their divorce in this market may be long. The British asset management subsidiary Artemis, which weighs more than 40 billion euros, has already reduced its position in 2021. “Our funds are likely to remain very low in China in the coming years”told in detail about the management of the company in late April, Bloomberg.

But if someone heralds the end of Eldorado, when stock and bond markets with more than 35,000 billion euros, China will retain a significant advantage.