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China's zero-Covid policy likely to downgrade global economic growth

Delegates wearing face masks sit before the opening session of the 20th National Congress of China's ruling Communist Party in Beijing, China on October 16, 2022. [AP Photo]

China’s strict zero-Covid policy has resulted in an economic slump not only in China but also in the Asian region as the Chinese President's authoritarianism has brought down the growth prospects toward zero.

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party and the stricter zero-Covid policy in the country have only confirmed that the reign of Xi for the third term will not prioritise the growth that helped power the global economic system.

Xi's authoritative regime in Beijing does not only stick to covid policies but also pivots around a self-sufficient economy.

With China already growing at its slowest in 30 years, Xi's doubling down on COVID lockdowns seems an international "sell" sign for 2023. Moreover, his extreme focus on security, and stability and quest for the reunification of Taiwan suggests the pivot to inward-looking, state-led policies are accelerating, and China's growth is moving backwards.

China last month started the implementation of the zero-covid policy that saw authorities forcefully remove patients from their homes and place them isolation centres.

Victims claimed that the lockdown order was given without sufficient preparation time, leaving people short of food in their homes.

The harsh ‘zero covid’ policy, they say has subjected them to violent beatings, separation from family members, lack of food in the isolation centres, and ignorance of Chinese officials in the isolation centres.

And as China’s ruling Communist Party held a congress this week, many Beijing residents were focused on whether the end of the meeting will bring an easing of the “zero-COVID” policies that are disrupting lives and the economy?

However, Xi Jinping, praised the policy at the opening ceremony of the congress saying it had prioritised and protected people’s health and safety and made a “tremendous achievement in striking the balance between epidemic response and economic and social development.”

As a result of the policy, people are not allowed into office buildings, shopping malls, restaurants and other public places without a green code and a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours, and sometimes less.

The policy means the 21 million-plus population take a coronavirus test at least two to three times a week.

While the party congress has not provided the watershed moment that some have been hoping for, it may turn out to be the point at which the government begins to lay the groundwork for a long process of loosening restrictions.

China has in recent weeks more than doubled its daily average of new infections, to nearly 2,000, which is still extremely low by global standards.

The authorities are still strict about the epidemic. To ensure that the 20th National Congress did not get disturbed by any means, the CCP's "clearing" policy caused considerable economic and societal costs.

Further reports by CNN indicate that lives of millions of people have been disrupted, and people have complained.

CNN said efforts to curb the spread of Covid across China led to a renewed fall in service sector activity, which disrupted business operations and restricted travel. In particular, employment continued to shrink.

The gauge for employment stayed in contraction territory for the ninth consecutive month and hit its lowest point since May.

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