China's Premier Li Keqiang issued a third warning about economic growth risks in less than a week, raising concerns over businesses as widespread COVID 19 lockdowns disrupt production and spending.
Speaking at a forum held with local government officials on April 11, Li urged officials to increase the sense of urgency in speeding up the implementation of various policy measures, stressing that all localities and government departments should remain vigilant, despite rising downward pressure and resolutely respond to new challenges, according to Global Times.
The analysts believe that the rising challenges from COVID 19 and global tensions will put downward pressure on the pillars of China's economy, particularly investment and consumption, in the near term.
Chinese officials have warned of rising downward pressure.
On April 7, Li had said at a forum held with experts and entrepreneurs that some unforeseen factors were out of expectations that brought more uncertainties and challenges to the stable economic operation.
On April 8, Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Xiao Yaqing pointed out the difficulties faced by China's industrial economy, including logistics woes and high bulk commodity prices.
China is paying more attention to the country's economic difficulties at a time when it could be the most challenging period after early 2020, according to Global Times.
The current COVID 19 situation may mark the most significant challenge for the country and arguably the Chinese leader Xi Jinping against zero Covid policy. Since March 1, more than 320,000 local COVID- 19 cases had been reported in 31 provinces, including those in Shanghai, since March 1, according to health authorities.
It's been a challenge to get supplies across the country, with some expressways closed, and truck drivers in quarantine or at thousands of highway health checkpoints.
On Monday, China's economic hub Shanghai reported the first deaths of the COVID 19 outbreak, along with 2,417 local confirmed cases in the last 24 hours.
Three people who died were between 89 and 91 years old and had underlying diseases.
Shanghai has 2,417 local confirmed COVID 19 cases and 19,831 local asymptomatic carriers on Sunday when three deaths were reported, who are seniors aged between 89 and 91 with severe underlying disease, Global Times said in a tweet.
Some cities have discouraged their residents from leaving, like the major southern port of Guangzhou, which requires 18 million people to show a negative COVID test if they want to get out.
The zero-covid policy has sparked growing frustration and anger in Shanghai and threatens to cause more disruption, which will further increase the risks for the Communist Party. The economic slowdown is a big concern, said Alfred Wu, associate professor at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.