China has reportedly postponed a key economic meeting amid signs of a COVID surge

China has reportedly postponed a key economic meeting amid signs of a COVID surge
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  • Beijing abandons key tools of ‘zero-COVID’ regime
  • The changes follow historic protests last month
  • The opening raises fears of the spread of infection

SHANGHAI/HONG KONG, Dec 13 (Reuters) – China’s leaders have reportedly postponed a key economic policy meeting amid growing signs that COVID-19 infections are rising after Beijing lifted some of the world’s toughest restrictions to contain the spread of the virus. virus

President Xi Jinping and other Politburo members and senior government officials were in attendance is expected to participate A closed-door Central Economic Work Conference is likely to set the policy course for China’s struggling economy in 2023 this week.

The meeting was postponed and there was no timetable for rescheduling, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday night, citing people familiar with the matter.

Policy insiders and business analysts said the administration is expected to plan its plan additional stimulating steps and discuss highly anticipated growth targets in the annual three-day session.

The delay comes as authorities continue to roll back the previously staunch “zero-COVID” policy championed by Xi.

There are long queues While the official number of new cases has fallen in recent weeks as authorities cut back on testing, it’s a worrying sign that a wave of infections is emerging outside fever clinics.

Companies in China range from e-commerce giant to cosmetics brand Sephora is in a hurry to minimize the impact of rising infections – filling test kits, encouraging more work from home and, in some cases, truckloads of medicine.

The signs come as China tries to rapidly adjust to a world that has largely reopened after unprecedented popular protests against mass lockdowns strictly enforced three years after the pandemic.

The protests were the strongest public outcry during Xi’s ten-year presidency and came amid China’s $17 trillion growth figures, the world’s second-largest economy, the worst in 50 years.

Despite the spread of infections, people in China on Tuesday welcomed the rollback of a state-run program used to track whether they had traveled to areas infected with COVID.

When authorities disabled the “route code” app at midnight on Monday, four Chinese telecommunications companies said they would delete users’ data associated with the app.

“Goodbye route code, I hope I never see you again,” said a post on social media platform Weibo, where people welcomed the takedown of an app that critics fear could be used for mass surveillance of the public.

“The hand extended to show strength during the epidemic must now be withdrawn,” wrote another user.

And in another sign of policy easing, there’s Chinese healthcare company started selling Through Pfizer’s application of Paxlovid to treat COVID-19 in China – the drug was previously only available in some hospitals.

According to the platform’s customer service, the listing sold out in just over half an hour after it was reported by local media.

For all the relief over the government’s decision last week to begin rolling back its zero-COVID policy, there are fears that China may now pay a price.

Infections are expected to rise further during the Chinese New Year holiday next month, when people travel within the country to be with their families – a risk for a population of 1.4 billion who lack “herd immunity” after long periods of isolation. according to some analysts, low vaccination rates among the elderly.

Experts say China’s healthcare system is fragile it could be overturned quickly if these fears come true.

Last week’s moves to ease COVID restrictions included mandatory testing and quarantine before many public activities.

Prominent China commentator Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of the nationalist state tabloid Global Times, said Beijing is now the epicenter of a rapid new wave of infections, but the city has the resources to cope.

“The rate of new infections is truly amazing, and I believe that what we are witnessing here has to be one of the most severe rates of virus transmission in the world since the beginning of the COVID pandemic,” Hu said.


Beijing’s representative to the United States said on Monday that he believes China’s COVID-19 measures will be further relaxed in the near future and that international travel to the country will become easier. it also gets easier.

Since the pandemic originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, China has closed its borders to international travel. International flights remain at a fraction of pre-pandemic levels and arrivals are quarantined for eight days.

Financial hub Hong Kong, which already maintains less stringent border controls than mainland China, said on Tuesday it would lift a requirement for arriving travelers to avoid bars and restaurants. within three days of arrival.

There will also be Hong Kong cancel his mobile tracking app Managing access to restaurants and venues such as gyms, clubs and lounges, said CEO John Lee.

While the lifting of controls is expected to brighten the outlook for global growth longer, analysts say Chinese businesses will struggle in the coming weeks as the wave of infections creates staffing shortages. makes consumers wary.

Chinese stocks (.CSI300) The latest rebound, fueled by hopes of a reopening on Tuesday, gave way to concerns about the spread of infections. The yuan currency was little changed, but it was already set for its worst year since 1994, when China combined its official and market exchange rates.

Reporting by Bernard Orr and Ethan Wang in Beijing, Brenda Goh and Shen Yiming in Shanghai, and Farah Master in Hong Kong; Writing by John Geddie and Greg Torode; Edited by Simon Cameron-Moore, Nick Macfie and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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