Is China really back at work?
China’s effort to restart its economy without unleashing a second wave of coronavirus cases will be watched by the world, said Laura He. The country where the pandemic began had been almost completely shut down since late January, resulting in China’s first economic contraction in decades. Now that locally transmitted cases have plummeted, however, it has begun rolling out “a slew of policies and campaigns meant to push people back to work.” The government is pumping billions into infrastructure projects to create jobs and has “required banks to defer loan payments for troubled households or companies.” Beijing also ordered railway and airline companies to make special arrangements to get migrant workers back to their factories. The Chinese state media is “amplifying the message” that the country is safe again for investors and foreign companies. But the increased pressure carries risks. A top titanium producer had to halt work that had been restarted in February because more workers were infected. Other companies “have been turning on the lights and letting machines run idle so it appears to government officials that they’re using electricity,” out of fear of another outbreak, causing some to question whether we are getting a “distorted picture of what’s really happening on the ground.”