China’s Cabinet led by Premier Li Keqiang held an unprecedented video conference yesterday with more than 1,00,000 participants to bolster the economy battered by the country’s stringent COVID-19 restrictions. The unexpected video teleconference by the State Council was attended by officials across provincial, city and council levels and of various levels, according to state media reports.

Premier Li Keqiang said that the difficulties, in some areas and to a certain degree, are even greater than the severe shock of the pandemic in 2020. He pointed to several indicators including unemployment rates, lower industrial production, lower power generation and cargo transportation since March and especially in April. Mr Li urged authorities to earnestly implement policies in sustaining jobs, reducing unemployment, and keep the economy operating in a reasonable range.

The world’s second-largest economy has suffered across the sectors since a COVID wave spread in February end, prompting lockdown measures in many major cities, particularly in the financial hub Shanghai, where many have been locked down in their homes for two months.

The timing, scale and format indicate the level of urgency and current challenges for the country to achieve its target of around 5.5 per cent GDP growth for the year, according to analysts as China showed very weak economic activity in April. The Premier has become increasingly vocal about the economic downturn in recent weeks, calling the situation complex and grave earlier in May, but this is the strictes


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