Screenshot of no known origin detailing China reopening plan leads to $450bn market rally

Residents line up to get their routine COVID-19 throat swabs at a coronavirus testing site setup along a pedestrian walkway in Beijing (AP)
Residents line up to get their routine COVID-19 throat swabs at a coronavirus testing site setup along a pedestrian walkway in Beijing (AP)

A mysterious screenshot with no known origin, purportedly detailed “China’s reopening plan”, has led to a rally in Beijing stocks with gains of $450bn.

The letter, which consisted of just four paragraphs of text, began circulating on the Chinese social media platform WeChat this week, leading to speculations about Xi Jinping’s plans to ease the stringent Covid restrictions and open up the country by March next year.

The letter was first posted by an anonymous account and it contained no details about its origin or where the information mentioned in the text came from, according to Bloomberg news which first reported the letter.

However, the news spread like wildfire in the country where citizens have been living under strict containment policy.

It claimed that a meeting was held on Sunday of Covid-19 experts at the request of president Xi.

It also said the meeting was conducted by China’s top official Wang Huning, one of seven men on the powerful Politburo Standing Committee – which was attended by members of the economic and propaganda departments there.

The text referred to Mr Xi as “big boss” and used “WHN” to refer to Mr Wang in a bid to sidestep the tight censorship on WeChat, the only social media platform allowed in the country that banned Facebook, Twitter and all other popular platforms.

It said the participants in the meeting discussed “speeding up a conditional opening plan, with the goal of substantially opening by March next year”.

The post was also widely shared by stock traders and market analysts as it began to pick momentum. Soon after, the unverified unknown piece of note sent markets rallying.

Investors had been starving for optimism in the Chinese market which has been surrounded by pandemic gloom even after three years.

With new cases emerging, China is sticking with a strict Covid containment policy that has caused mounting economic damage and widespread frustration, while keeping its borders shut for most international travel.

The country is yet to make any announcement on when or how it will begin to exit from an approach that it calls “dynamic zero”.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, China reported 531 new local Covid cases in the mainland.