What changes would Covid-19 bring to China?

February 17, 2020 08:17
The coronavirus crisis will impact China in many ways, both economically and socially. Photo: Bloomberg

The coronavirus outbreak in China is expected to have a lot of consequences and bring some profound changes in the country. Here are some possibilities:

-- Properties located in first-tier cities would be more sought-after, after the outbreak highlighted the gap between the big and small cities in terms of medical resources.

-- Low-density developments would be more popular as the infections have mostly occurred in densely-populated neighborhoods.

-- Automobile demand is likely to go up. Local residents of Wuhan, the virus epicenter that is currently in lockdown, can’t go anywhere without a car given that public transport has all been cut off. Such crisis situation shows how important it is to own a car.

-- Meanwhile, an overhaul of housing design will occur across China, in particular that related to sewage pipes and ventilation systems in bathrooms.

-- Also, companies will put in more serious effort to map out remote working arrangements for staff, using the internet. Otherwise, it won’t be feasible to ask employees to work from home when the next crisis strikes.

-- Among other likely developments, the cruise business could take a big hit from the epidemic. Cruise tours were once considered one of the most promising travel sectors as many Chinese people had not experienced them and were keen to get a taste of it. Not any more, given the saga of the Diamond Princess ship that is docked off Yokohama in Japan after more than 200 passengers and crew were found infected with Covid-19.

In the wake of the disaster, it is reasonable to assume that it will take years for Chinese people's interest in cruise tours to recover.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 14

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist