Last month, the Chinese Premier hosted a virtual meeting with about 100,000 government officials, telling them to focus on economic growth to bring it to the pre-pandemic level. He recommended policies to tackle the ongoing problems caused by Beijing’s zero-Covid policy. Li also urged local officials to balance Covid controls and economic growth better.
However, at Li’s State Council executive meeting on June 8, a report on special inspections found that problems remain.
The inspection report focused on three key issues; economic growth, operations of businesses, and employment in 12 provinces.
The report found problems in some local governments, such as inconsistent policy implementation or unreasonable charges and fines.
At the meeting, Li again stressed that local governments need to coordinate Covid control measures and economic growth to return to the pre-pandemic growth level.
The members at the meeting admitted that China’s economy is still under downward pressure and called for swift actions in many areas like foreign trade, investment, logistics, farming harvests, and others.
In addition, the meeting called for easing transport and logistics and eliminating unuseful policies and measures.
Chinese-language media Da Ji Yuan said that inspection results showed Li’s virtual conference on May 25 had little effect. Local officials still consider the zero-Covid policy more important than economic growth.
After the online conference, Bloomberg cited provincial officials, saying that Li’s speech did not change the views of grassroots officials, that controlling the epidemic remained a priority, and that senior officials in many cities were absent from the conference because they were busy containing the outbreak.
At that time, referring to Li’s move, Trey McArver, a co-founder of research firm Trivium China, told Bloomberg, “He is being put in the impossible position of trying to rescue the economy without being able to adjust the one policy, zero-Covid, that is causing the most economic damage.”