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China Loosens Anti-COVID Regulations After Protests

China eased COVID-19 regulations and virus test requirements for some public places on Wednesday, according to AP News. China's strong zero-COVID stance, which disrupted manufacturing and global trade, sparked protests last week.

"People with mild cases will be allowed for the first time to isolate at home, the National Health Commission announced, instead of going to sometimes overcrowded or unsanitary quarantine centers," the article reads. "Experts warn, however, that restrictions can't be lifted completely until at least mid-2023 because millions of elderly people still must be vaccinated and the health care system strengthened."

It will likely take some time before the relaxed restrictions show a positive effect on China's economic growth and global trade. "Consumption should recover in 2023 but there might not be any big jump as wage growth in the manufacturing sector could be sluggish given the risk of recession in the U.S. and Europe in the first half of next year," according to ING Economics. "In short, economic growth in December and January will not be overly impressive, though we expect a quarter-on-quarter improvement in GDP from -0.4% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of this year to 3.4% YoY in the first quarter of 2023."

Protests against the zero-COVID policy began on Nov. 25 at a vigil in Shanghai, the day after a deadly apartment fire in northwest China's Xinjiang killed 11 people, per AP News. The tragedy cased nation-wide outrage since "COVID-lockdown measures very likely delayed firefighters from getting to the scene," per a CNN broadcast. A video of the incident shows firetrucks blocked by the compound entrance with fences, tents and metal barriers.

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Thursday, 02 February 2023

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