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Chinese ports drilled into closed-loop mode amid new Covid outbreaks 

Having experienced on-off lockdowns since the Covid-19 pandemic started in 2020, major container ports in China are now ever-ready to impose closed-loop operations as the country refuses to back down on its zero-Covid-19 policy.

Today, the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, home to Yantian and Shekou ports, extended movement restrictions that began in late August, after more Covid-19 infections were discovered, but stopped short of a full lockdown.

Municipal authorities have asserted that port operations in Yantian and Shekou have remained normal, even as Shenzhen’s population of around 18 million has been urged to stay home as the city battles its worst outbreak since March.

Shenzhen is where some of China’s biggest companies, including Huawei Technologies and BYD, have their headquarters, and these companies have regarded “closed loop” systems as second nature. Such systems mean that employees can only commute between work and home and make no physical contact with people outside their workplaces.

Apple phone assembler Foxconn, which also has its factory in Shenzhen, has said that operations there have been unperturbed.

Over in Hainan island, where an outbreak of the BA.5.1.3 variant made authorities impose a lockdown in August, it is business as usual for its main container port, Yangpu International Container Terminal.

The terminal’s spokesperson said that ships are still calling at the port as scheduled and there has been no notification of carriers skipping calls.

The spokesperson added, "Yangpu has implemented a closed-loop operation, and each shift grasps production works according to eight operation lines, and the overall operational efficiency has returned to the pre-pandemic level."

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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