Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned top officials that efforts to contain the outbreak of deadly coronavirus are threatening the country’s economy, sources told Reuters. Jimping is trying to strike a balance between an already slowing economy and a novel virus that has already killed over 1,000 and infected more than 40,000.
China is experiencing its slowest growth in nearly three decades as it simultaneously battles an epidemic that is claiming the lives of citizens at an alarming rate. Apart from this, the mainland is also encountering international isolation with countries denying entry to travellers from the country.
During a meeting of the Politburo’s Standing Committee, President Xi told officials that actions to restrict the virus from spreading have gone too far and are now harming the economy, said two people with knowledge of the matter, who refused to be named.
He asked them to refrain from “more restrictive measures”, said the two sources.
Just outside the Chinese city of Wihan, where the virus is said to have originated, local authorities have shut down schools, factories, sealed off roads and railways, banned public events and even locked down residential compounds. Xi said some of those steps have not been practical and have caused panic amongst citizens.
Post the meeting, the NDRC is urging companies and factories to resume work, especially in “key industries” such as food and pharmaceuticals.
“In the context of the epidemic and the downward pressure on the economy, it is more important to maintain economic growth,” Pan Gongsheng, vice-governor of China’s central bank, said on Friday.
On Monday, Zhejiang province in eastern China ordered local authorities to not overreact on the situation by ceasing everyday movement or shutting down “shops of chain stores and convenience stores that sell daily necessities such as vegetables, cooking oil as well as meat, eggs and dairy products,” according to a government release.