European business leaders and diplomats in China have urged Xi Jinping’s administration to change course from its contentious zero-Covid policy and set the world’s second-biggest economy on a path to reopening just as Beijing and Guangzhou teeter on the edge of citywide lockdowns.
Health officials reported a daily record of 31,987 new locally transmitted Covid-19 infections on Friday, up more than 2,000 from Thursday. The Chinese capital is now partially locked down with schools, offices and malls mostly closed, restaurants shuttered for dine-in services and the city’s typically bustling streets almost empty.
In a letter sent to Yin Yong, the acting mayor of Beijing, Jörg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, expressed concern over the “increasingly stringent epidemic controls” and the lack of “reasonable explanations” for decisions to lockdown. businesses and residential buildings.
“A lack of adequate preparation has resulted in district governments and/or communities managing the recent outbreak in the same way as they did previously, by locking down businesses — with several having been mandatorily closed despite not being in a high-risk area — residences. and other public venues,” the letter said.
“This is very concerning, given that Shanghai’s experience from earlier this year has shown that after long-term lockdowns, many foreign nationals are likely to leave China. This would be detrimental to Beijing’s goal of developing into an international city.”
Shanghai, China’s most important international financial city, was locked down for two months after an uncontrolled outbreak.
Edward White in Seoul, Ryan McMorrow and Maiqi Ding in Beijing, Primrose Riordan, William Langley and Gloria Li in Hong Kong.