China wants to fight the coronavirus but fears an economic crisis. The central government has production ramped up again. But it is not that simple.
First, China’s leaders had to be accused of being too hesitant about the coronavirus outbreak. Then she practically shut down the country and mass quarantine, which caused the economy to collapse. Now China’s leadership is trying to find a balance: take the virus seriously, but not at the expense of the economy. And that doesn’t really work either.
China’s head of state, Xi Jinping, has already asked his compatriots to return to the production facilities and resume their work at the beginning of the past few weeks. In regions where the risk is “comparatively low”, production should be fully resumed, the order says. The fight against the virus should only be limited to preventing the introduction. In other words, there will still be controls and fever monitoring points at train stations, airports and shopping malls. Otherwise, life should normalize again.
And even in areas with “medium risk”, people should go back to work, and the authorities should only check “depending on the local situation of the epidemic” whether quarantine measures are still appropriate.
The slump in economic data
The regions particularly affected by the Sars-Covid-19 coronavirus, especially the crisis province of Hubei, remain exempt from this request, where the outbreak began and with almost 70,000 infected people, the number is by far the highest worldwide. These regions should continue to “focus fully on control and prevention,” Xi ordered.
In fact, in almost half of all circles in China, no infected people were registered at all. According to official figures, the northeast with its heavy industry, in particular, has counted only a few infected people. However, the economic activity stopped all over the country. The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a central index for the production of all Chinese plants, fell to below 38 points in February; everything below 50 points indicates a shrinking of production. The value has never been this low since the 2005 index was launched in China. In the service sector, the index even dropped to below 30 points.