Speaking at a forum held with local government officials on April 11, Li urged officials to “increase the sense of urgency” in speeding up the implementation of various policy measures, stressing that all localities and government departments should remain confident while also being highly vigilant against unexpected challenges, rising downward pressure and resolutely respond to new challenges, according to Global Times.
According to the analysts, the rising challenges from COVID-19 as well as global tensions will put downward pressure on the pillars of China’s economy, particularly investment and consumption, in the near term.
Chinese officials have repeatedly been warning of rising downward pressure.
On April 7, Li had said during a forum held with experts and entrepreneurs that some “unforeseen factors” were out of expectations, which brought more uncertainties and challenges to stable economic operation.
On April 8, the Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Xiao Yaqing also pointed out the difficulties faced by China’s industrial economy, including logistics woes and high bulk commodity prices.
Chinese officials are paying more attention to the country’s economic difficulties at a time that could be the most challenging period after early 2020, Global Times reported citing experts.
The current COVID-19 situation may mark the most significant challenge for the country — and, arguably, for Chinese leader Xi Jinping against zero Covid policy. As of last Tuesday, health authorities said more than 320,000 local COVID-19 cases had been reported across 31 provinces, including those in Shanghai, since March 1.
Getting supplies across the country has become a steep challenge, with some expressways closed and truck drivers ensnared in quarantine or at thousands of highway health checkpoints.
On Monday, China’s economic hub Shanghai reported the first deaths of the COVID-19 outbreak, along with 2,417 local confirmed coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours.
Three people who died were aged between 89 and 91, and all had underlying diseases.
“Shanghai registered 2,417 local confirmed COVID19 cases and 19,831 local asymptomatic carriers on Sunday when three deaths were reported, who are seniors aged between 89 and 91, with severe underlying disease,” Global Times said in a Tweet.
Some cities in China have discouraged their residents from leaving, like the major southern port of Guangzhou, which requires its 18 million people to show a negative COVID test if they want to get out.
Moreover, the zero-covid policy has sparked mounting frustration and anger in Shanghai and threatens more disruption amplifying the risks for the Communist Party.
“Economic slowdown is quite a big concern,” said Alfred Wu, an associate professor in the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. (ANI)