China issues third economic growth warning amid Covid-19 outbreak
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has issued a third economic growth risk warning in less than a week, sparking concern among businesses as widespread COVID-19 lockdowns disrupt production and spending.
Speaking at a forum with local government officials on April 11, Li urged officials to “increase the sense of urgency” by accelerating the implementation of various policy measures, stressing that all localities and government departments must remain confident, while being very vigilant. face unexpected challenges, increasing downward pressure and resolutely respond to new challenges, according to Global Times.
Growing challenges from COVID-19 as well as global tensions will put downward pressure on the mainstays of China’s economy, particularly investment and consumption, in the near term, analysts said.
Chinese officials have repeatedly warned of mounting downward pressure.
On April 7, Li said at a forum held with experts and entrepreneurs that some “unforeseen factors” were out of expectation, bringing more uncertainties and challenges to stable economic operation.
On April 8, Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Xiao Yaqing also pointed to difficulties faced by China’s industrial economy, including logistics issues and high bulk raw material prices.
Chinese officials are paying more attention to the country’s economic woes at what could be the most difficult period after the start of 2020, the Global Times reported citing experts.
The current COVID-19 situation could pose the most significant challenge for the country – and, arguably, for Chinese leader Xi Jinping against the zero Covid policy. Last Tuesday, health authorities said more than 320,000 local cases of COVID-19 had been reported in 31 provinces, including those in Shanghai, since March 1.
Supply across the country has become a daunting challenge, with some highways closed and truckers trapped in quarantine or at thousands of highway health checkpoints.
On Monday, China’s economic hub of Shanghai reported the first deaths from the COVID-19 outbreak, as well as 2,417 local confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.
Three people who died were between the ages of 89 and 91 and all had underlying illnesses.
“Shanghai recorded 2,417 local confirmed COVID19 cases and 19,831 local asymptomatic carriers on Sunday when three deaths were reported, who are elderly people aged 89 to 91, with serious underlying disease,” said the Global Times in a Tweet.
Some cities in China have discouraged their residents from leaving, such as the major southern port of Guangzhou, which requires its 18 million residents to present a negative COVID test if they want to go outside.
Moreover, the zero covid policy has sparked growing frustration and anger in Shanghai and threatens further disruption, amplifying the risks to the Communist Party.”
The economic downturn is a big concern,” said Alfred Wu, associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.
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