China's premier called for more to be done to stabilise the world's second-largest economy, issuing an unusually stark warning as the country's zero-Covid strategy bites into growth
Credits: AFP

China's premier called for more to be done to stabilise the world's second-largest economy, issuing an unusually stark warning as the country's zero-Covid strategy bites into growth

China is the last major economy welded to a policy of mass testing and hard lockdowns to eliminate virus clusters, but the strict curbs have battered businesses.

Restrictions around the nation in recent months -- including on the manufacturing hubs of Shenzhen and Shanghai, as well as the breadbasket province of Jilin -- have tangled supply chains and dragged economic indicators to their lowest levels in around two years.The latest company to sound a warning on the impact of strict Covid measures in China was tech giant Baidu, which Thursday reported $140 million in net loss over the January-March period.

Baidu co-founder Robin Li said business had been "negatively impacted by the recent Covid-19 resurgence in China" and warned "challenges related to the virus continue to pressure" their operations.

The country's current outbreak -- fuelled by the Omicron variant -- is the worst since early in the pandemic in 2020.

Financial hub Shanghai has been almost entirely sealed off since April, crushing businesses, while curbs are creeping in across the capital Beijing with no clear end in sight.

The government has offered tax relief and a bond drive to help industries, and President Xi Jinping earlier called for an "all-out" infrastructure push.

But analysts cautioned that growth will keep wilting until China eases its rigid virus controls.

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