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COVID-19: An ESSEC Alumnus Reports From Beijing

Interviews

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29/04/2020

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The situation seems under control in Beijing. However Tianhe Ji (E12), President of ESSEC Alumni’s Beijing Chapter, says life is far from being back to normal. 

ESSEC Alumni: What is the current situation in Beijing?

Tianhe Ji: There has never been any lock-down in Beijing. I have been going to offices and restaurants since the outbreak of the epidemic, and to parks with my family every weekend since March. 

EA: Has life returned to normal, or are there still precautionary measures?

T. Ji: Of course, everyone wears a mask now. Schools, cinemas, dancing clubs, gyms, swimming pools or even dentist clinics remain closed; only open-air sport facilities like basketball fields are open to public. Moving round is fine, but a check of body temperature or a check of itinerary is everywhere. For example, if you want to go to a book store, you may be required to show your past itinerary based on your mobile phone, and you may need to leave your personal identity. Plus, people coming from abroad still need to undergo a long quarantine, so essentially there is no business travelers or tourists coming to Beijing. Those in Beijing also refrain from going outside.

EA: How is the post-crisis period shaping up in Beijing? 

T. Ji: Other cities in China may recover much better than Beijing. I see in Shanghai people can go to gyms, and in Chengdu even kindergartens are open again. On a national level, I’m anticipating two major impacts. First, Chinese economy may rely much more on domestic market, and the share of export/import will be less for Chinese economy. Second, there could be more reforms of outstanding system, particularly in urbanization. It’s clear that some parts of China are proving more resilient and competitive, so people may continue to move to these regions. 

EA: How are you impacted? 

T. Ji: Both personally and professionally, my plans for 2020 completely changed, as I was supposed to have a 2-month/2-month rotation between Beijing and London in 2020. It doesn’t seem possible anymore. My family was in London earlier this year, however they returned to Beijing for safety in March. 

EA: What news from the local ESSEC community in this context?

T. Ji: I feel the local ESSEC community is not much impacted by the pandemic. Some alumni were locked in Wuhan in February/March, but now they returned to Beijing smoothly and safely. A story worth sharing: Matthieu David-Experton (E09), President of ESSEC Alumni’s Shanghai Chapter, and I both joined in a collective donation with INSA engineering school to buy masks for France. I was responsible for fund raising and managed to rally many alumni. This was also an opportunity to reconnect and share fond memories of our days at ESSEC. It was very comforting to escape the present time for a moment and rekindle the good old days.


Interview by Veary Ngy, International  Community Manager at ESSEC Alumni, and Louis Armengaud Wurmser (E10), Content Manager at ESSEC Alumni

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