China set to ease COVID curbs further as markets cheer change of tack

  • New Covid rules across country soon from Wednesday – sources
  • The shift follows mass protests last month
  • Yuan companies, global markets raise China’s hopes

HONG KONG/BEIJING, Dec 5 (Reuters) – China is set to further ease some of its toughest tariffs as early as Wednesday, sources said, as investors cheered the prospect of a policy shift following widespread protests and tightening. to announce the restrictions of covid in the world. Economic damage

Three years into the pandemic, China’s zero-tolerance measures, from border closures to frequent quarantines, contrast sharply with the rest of the world, which has largely chosen to live with the virus.

The austere approach has hit the world’s second-largest economy, strained hundreds of millions of people and last month sparked the biggest show of public discontent in mainland China since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012. Is.

Although last month’s protests largely subsided amid heavy police presence in major cities, regional authorities have since eased lockdowns, quarantine rules and testing requirements to varying degrees. Senior officials have also softened their tone on the dangers posed by the virus.

The financial center of Shanghai announced on Monday night that it will remove the requirement of Covid-19 tests for people to enter most public places from Tuesday.

A new set of nationwide rules is due to be announced soon, paving the way for more coordinated facilitation, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

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Beijing is also considering whether to ease its handling of the virus to reflect the less serious threat it posed in January, the sources added.

More broadly, analysts are now predicting that China may lift border controls and reopen the economy earlier than expected next year, with some fully reopening in the spring.

“Although we are also hopeful, we caution that the road to reopening may be gradual, painful and bumpy,” Ting Lu, Nomura’s chief China economist, wrote in a research note on Monday. wave of infection

Feng Zijian, former vice president of China’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the newspaper: “As infections increase, putting pressure on China’s medical infrastructure, mild and asymptomatic cases should be quarantined at home.”

Those who have not completed their primary vaccinations or received booster shots should do so as soon as possible, especially the elderly and vulnerable, Feng said in an interview with the state-backed Shanghai News Network.

But last week’s piecemeal cuts have some in China fearing being caught on the wrong side of the rapidly changing rules.

Yin, who lives in a small town near Beijing, said her sister and husband had a fever and she had a sore throat, but they did not want to be tested for fear of being put under state quarantine.

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“All we want is to recover at home,” he told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The yuan jumped to its strongest level against the dollar since mid-September as investors hope the easing of pandemic restrictions will brighten the outlook for global growth.

In another hopeful sign, a source at Apple supplier Foxconn ( 2317.TW ) told Reuters that the company expects the coronavirus-hit Zhengzhou plant – the world’s largest iPhone factory – to resume full production. resume this month or early next.

Economic data underscored the damage from the restrictions, as services activity fell to a six-month low in November.

Changing the message

Along with reducing facilities in various cities, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who is overseeing China’s Covid-19 efforts, said last week that the virus’s ability to cause disease is weakening.

This shift in messaging is consistent with the position of many health authorities around the world for more than a year.

In recent days, major cities across China have continued to take mitigation measures.

Among them, the eastern city of Nanjing removed the need for a Covid test to use public transport. So is Beijing, although entry to many offices in the capital still requires a negative test.

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Randall Li, 25, a marketing specialist in Beijing, said: “I still can’t feel a very noticeable change. Lee said his company still requires him to test every day he comes into the office.

Elsewhere, official figures for new infections have fallen as testing requirements have eased.

Hu Shijin, a prominent commentator and former editor of the state-run Global Times newspaper, said in a blog that some official statistics likely understate the spread of the virus because of low testing rates.

While protests have died down, frustration can still linger, as events in the central city of Wuhan, where the virus first emerged in late 2019, showed this weekend.

Video clips posted on Twitter showed people pushing over barriers in an apparent attempt to break out of quarantine at a garment industrial park on Saturday.

Then on Sunday, dozens of students stood in the rain outside a university in the city, demanding more “transparency” in Covid policies.

Reuters was able to confirm that the incidents took place in Wuhan.

Reporting by Ryan Wu, Bernard Orr and Martin Kevin Pollard in Beijing and Julie Zhou and Kevin Huang in Hong Kong. Written by John Geddy and Greg Torode. Edited by Clarence Fernandez and Nick McPhee

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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