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As the end of the COVID shutdown approaches, Shanghai's economy improves in fits and starts

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Roxanne Liu and David StanwayAs China continues its uneven escape from restrictions, Shanghai took more i...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - Roxanne Liu and David StanwayAs China continues its uneven escape from restrictions, Shanghai took more incremental measures toward releasing its COVID-19 lockdown on Friday, while Beijing investigated incidents where its severe limitations were impacting other medical treatments.

The financial hub and the capital have been hotspots, with a two-month lockdown in Shanghai to stop a coronavirus outbreak and stringent movement restrictions in Beijing to stop a tiny but persistent outbreak.

The restrictions have harmed the world's second-largest economy at a time when most countries are attempting to return to some kind of normalcy.

China's economy has regained its footing, but data suggests only a sluggish and limited recovery, with industries ranging from retailers to chipmakers warning of poor sales as consumers in the country press the brakes on spending.

According to Ruan Qiantu, chief of Shanghai's branch of China's State Grid, electricity consumption by Shanghai's large industrial companies increased gradually in the first three weeks of May to 83 percent of 2021 levels.

As demand recovers and the summer consumption peak approaches, the utility will seek to avoid disruptions, according to Ruan. "We are actively reacting to enterprise demands."

Shanghai, China's most populous city, has been allowing more residents out of their houses and more businesses to reopen over the past week as the city prepares to virtually end its lockdown on Wednesday. However, most individuals remain limited to their homes, and most businesses can only provide delivery services.

On Friday, the Pudong district, which includes the Shanghai Port, the city's largest airport, and its main financial center, reopened 115 bus routes. After restarting four of the city's 20 subway lines and more than 250 bus routes on Sunday, the city is gradually boosting public transportation.

As of Thursday, more than 30 parks had reopened, with visitor numbers regulated at less than half of their full capacity, according to the Shanghai Daily. 70 more parks will reopen on Tuesday.

The current COVID caseload in Shanghai was around 300, with no cases outside confined regions, as has been the case for the last two weeks. On a daily basis, Beijing reported 29 cases, down from 45 the day before.

This week, the capital tightened quarantines, limited worker attendance, and prosecuted those who disobeyed orders. This rigid approach has occasionally resulted in other issues.

According to the state-run People's Daily, Beijing officials are investigating incidences of delayed care for patients with acute ailments, and several emergency services officers have been suspended.

On May 11, a farmer named Song posted on social media that his 32-year-old son died in Beijing after waiting for an hour for an ambulance with significant chest discomfort. Due to COVID rules at local hospitals, Song said he was told there was some misunderstanding over whether his son could be admitted.

"This behavior... produced major negative effects and damage to the anti-epidemic campaign and inflicted irreparable losses to a peasant family with only one kid," Song said on Thursday.

Pregnant women and other non-COVID patients were denied medical care during lockdowns in Shanghai and Xian earlier this year, causing controversy.


Industrial profits in China plummeted at the sharpest rate in two years in April, according to statistics released on Friday, as high raw material prices and clogged supply chains squeezed margins and interrupted manufacturing operations.

Customers are unwilling to replace their existing smartphones or laptops, and car sales in the world's largest auto market have slowed substantially. Gamers are buying fewer consoles, and consumers are unwilling to replace their existing smartphones or laptops.

However, there has been some progress this month.

Xpeng, a Chinese electric car manufacturer, is speeding up deliveries after resuming double-shift production at its plant in Zhaoqing in mid-May, according to chairman He Xiaopeng.

On Thursday, Tesla introduced a second shift to its Shanghai factory.

On Thursday, Alibaba Group declined to issue a projection for the next fiscal year, citing pandemic-related risks and other uncertainties.

On Thursday, China's central bank announced that it will encourage additional loans for small businesses.

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