China’s cabinet held an emergency meeting with more than 100,000 participants on Wednesday, according to state media, with top leaders calling for new measures to stabilize the country’s economy, which has been hit by strict Kovid-19 restrictions.
Officials at the provincial, city and council levels were present at the state council’s unexpected video teleconference, according to a report in the state-owned Global Times. High-ranking Chinese officials, including Premier Li Keqiang, were also present, urging the authorities to take steps to retain jobs and reduce unemployment.
The world’s second-largest economy has been hit across a number of sectors since a cowardly wave hit in March, prompting lockdown in many large cities – especially financial center Shanghai, where many have not been able to leave their homes or neighborhoods for a month. Half
Lee said that in some respects, according to the Global Times, the economic impact seen in March and April during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus outbreak exceeded 2020. He pointed to several indicators, including the unemployment rate, lower industrial production and cargo transportation.
The premier has become increasingly vocal about the economic downturn in recent weeks, calling the situation “complex and serious” in early May – but Wednesday’s comments could still paint the most grim picture.
Investment banks are lowering their forecasts for the Chinese economy this year. Earlier this week, UBS lowered its full-year GDP growth forecast to 3%, citing the risk of Beijing’s tight zero-quad policy. China says it expects about 5.5% growth this year. The world’s second-largest economy reported growth of 8.1% last year and 2.3% in 2020, the slowest pace in decades.
The teleconference comes after an executive meeting of the State Council on Monday where authorities unveiled 33 new economic measures, including increasing tax refunds, increasing loans for small businesses and providing emergency loans to the hard-hit aviation industry, state-owned news outlet Xinhua reported. .
Among the 33 policies, Kovid also simplifies a number of restrictions – such as lifting restrictions on truck movement from low-risk areas.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Lee called on government departments to implement those 33 steps by the end of May. According to Xinhua, he added, the state council will send task forces to 12 provinces from Thursday to oversee the roll-out of these policies.
Throughout the epidemic, China adheres to a strict zero-covid policy aimed at stamping out all chains of infection using border control, mandatory quarantine, mass testing and snap lockdown.
But the strategy has been challenged by the highly contagious Omicron variant, which grew across the country earlier this year despite authorities rushing to lock down district and inter-provincial boundaries.
By mid-May, more than 30 cities were under complete or partial lockdown, affecting 220 million people nationwide, according to CNN. For industries ranging from big tech to consumer goods, it is destroying both supply and demand.
Although a few of those cities have reopened, the impact of that disruption is still being felt, with unemployment reaching its highest level since the early coronavirus outbreak in early 2020.
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Many companies, including automaker Tesla and Volkswagen, have been forced to suspend operations. Airbnb is the latest multinational firm to withdraw, the home-sharing company announced last week that it would close its listing in China.
There is no clear end to the crisis, with authorities still struggling to contain the spread of the virus and top leaders pushing for a zero-sum game.
On Monday, the national capital Beijing – which has seen an increase in cases over the past few weeks – placed seven districts under partial lockdown, affecting about 14 million residents. The city’s two largest districts, Chawang and Haidian, were included – forcing all unnecessary businesses to close, including shopping malls, gyms and leisure venues.