Chinese officials are 'painfully aware' of economic fallout from lockdowns: European Chamber President

Hongkong (CNN Besigheid)Chinese officials are grappling with the economic distress caused by their Covid-19 restrictions, as several cities remain in lockdown, according to the head of a European trade group.

Jörg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, said in an interview with CNN Business on Thursday that his latest conversations with the government had been encouraging as pressure built on Beijing to ease up on measures that have stifled economic activity and kept millions of people Tuis.
They are painfully aware of the damage to the economy. They’re worried about unemployment. They’re worried about foreign companies putting money elsewhere,” hy het bygevoeg, citing a private meeting with a Chinese ministry. He declined to name the agency.
    China is the world’s last major country still adopting a zero Covid” beleid, which aims to stamp out any sign of the virus through stringent quarantine and mobility restrictions.
      Hierdie week, Chinese President Xi Jinping appeared to double down on that approach.
          We must put people’s lives and lives first, prevent imported cases and domestic flare-ups, conduct a scientific, precise and dynamic zero policy, and implement all measures to prevent and control” die pandemie, Xi was quoted as saying Wednesday by state-run news outlet Xinhua.
          Egter, the Chinese leader acknowledged that the country should take measures to minimize the impacton economic and social development.

          Economic fallout

          Analysts have warned of the policy’s adverse effects on the world’s second largest economy.
          Verlede week, the World Bank gekap China’s growth forecast, estimating that Chinese GDP would grow at 5% hierdie jaar, sharply down from last year’s 8.1%. That’s also lower than the country’s official target of about 5.5%.
          After a promising start to the year, China’s economy is now facing its worst disruption since the beginning of the pandemic,” Carol Liao, China Economist at PIMCO, wrote in a note Wednesday.
          She added that the impact on growth would ultimately depend on the length of ongoing restrictions.
          Since last month, full or partial lockdowns have been implemented in about 45 stede, Volgens skattings by Nomura. Those cities have around 373 million residents combined, accounting for a quarter of the population and about 40% of the economy.
          The situation has led to high levels of mental stress. In Shanghai, byvoorbeeld, where a massive lockdown has dragged on for weeks, residents have reported a lack of access to food and basic necessities since authorities decided to extend stay-home measures indefinitely.
          In a widely publicized letter this week, the European chamber wrote to China’s State Council and Vice Premier Hu Chunhua calling for the government to shift away from thezero Covidapproach and toward Singapore’sliving with Covid” model.
          Wuttke said that officials took the recommendation surprisingly “wel,” and appeared open to further discussion. “They see the damage it does,” hy het bygevoeg.

          Expat exodus

          But for some, it may already be too late.
          Wuttke estimates that China has already lost 50% of all European expats since the pandemic started.
          And there could be another exodus of families this summer when the school year ends, according to Wuttke. “I wouldn’t be surprised if another half of [those remaining] verlaat,” hy het gesê. “It really depends.
          As other nations continue to reopen, some foreign companies may also consider moving their regional headquarters out of China, hy het bygevoeg. “I definitely see discussions,” said Wuttke.
          Among those leaving are diplomats. Maandag, the US State Department gesê dit het “orderedthe departure of non-emergency employees and their families from Shanghai, aanhaling “a surge in Covid-19 cases and the impact of restrictions related to [China s’n] response.
          The notice came just days after the United States had authorized thevoluntary departureof staff from the city.
          In Shanghai, “the mood is really dark,” said Wuttke. “Almal weet dit 2022 is going to suck.
          The executive noted that while the international spotlight largely remained on the financial hub, many people throughout the nation had also been struggling.
          I think the situation is much worse in Changchun and Jilin and Shenyang,” hy het gesê, referring to other parts of the country that have endured longer lockdowns than Shanghai.
            These people are equally eager to leave and cannot.
            CNN’s Beijing bureau and Laura He contributed to this report.

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