While messages from the coronavirus front are mixed, to put it mildly, the current economic crash course might only be over by April/May, in the most optimistic scenario. Numbers of infected people and deaths by COVID-19 still vary to much to support any scenario at this stage, while it is also unclear whether the rest of the world can contain the virus.
Footage from metro subways still show empty carriages, as the central government tries to encouraged migrant workers to return to their workplaces. Local governments – including the big cities – advise returning migrants to put themselves in a social quarantine for two weeks to be sure they do not carry the virus. Native residents now have to report back for work, although they still prefer to work from home, if possible. The dilemma is obvious: different government make different choices when it come to prevent major economic damage or keeping their cities save from the virus.
In China, the blame game on who to make responsible for the current crisis is in full swing, now becomes clear that the centralized approach of any contagious disease, as it exists in China, might not have been the best system to contain the virus. State media showing humming factories might not be the full truth.
International business is not recovering any time soon. International flights have come to a standstill because of lack of business. Even postal services have for a large degree to a halt, as collateral damage because of the lack of flights. Container traffic is only now experiencing a severe slowdown, as cargo has been under way from China to the rest of the world for the past weeks. Restoring those international services, even when the virus would disappear tomorrow, is likely to take a few months.
At the China Speakers Bureau we did get a few calls from potential clients who try to plan ahead for events after this crisis is over. At this stage, we are not yet booking speakers who have to travel to or from China, or advise against planning international events with a major Chinese audience until we have more clarity. Even when life becomes more normal, we do not expect to resume activities in China before May/June and focus on activities outside China.