Premier Li Keqiang led an unprecedented crisis meeting this week as he called in more than 100,000 Chinese Communist Party officials. However, Chinese President Xi Jinping was absent from the meeting, raising speculation of a power struggle within the CCP. Mr Li appeared to distance himself from President Xi, as he urged officials to prioritise economic growth and protecting businesses, instead of zero-Covid.
Earlier this month, President Xi urged all officials to abide by China’s extreme zero-Covid lockdown measures.
However, in his remarks, Premier Li made no mention of zero-Covid, and instead called on CCP cadres to better balance lockdown controls and economic growth.
Premier Li’s remarks show a “total contradiction” and a huge rift at the top of Beijing’s leadership, according to experts.
Bloomberg’s Daniel Ten Kate said that many CCP officials in the crisis meeting were left wondering “who was in charge” of the country.
Palki Sharma from Indian news outlet, WION, said: “China is staring at a recession. The meeting was chaired by the Chinese Premier, they discussed how to save China’s economy.”
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She pointed out that China’s economy is performing worse now than it did at the start of the pandemic in 2020.
President Xi has sought to maintain a zero-Covid policy while targeting 5.5 percent GDP growth.
However, the latest forecast from Bloomberg shows the economy will grow 4.5 percent this year – the slowest rate since the Cultural Revolution under Mao Zedong
In his remarks, Premier Li said: “We will try to make sure the economy grows in the second quarter.
CNN host Fareed Zakaria remarked this week: “They are going for zero-Covid and they are getting zero growth.
“It will be the first time in 46 years that the United States will grow faster than China.
“Xi’s policies are not working, but he has a very tight grip on power.
“The whole anti-corruption sweep allowed him to eliminate a lot of his enemies and rivals. It will take more than these few months of bad policy and bad outcomes to dislodge him.”
China’s controversial zero-Covid approach has seen millions of people under extreme lockdown measures in Shanghai, China’s largest city, for over two months.