Chinese cities remain quiet amid tentative exit from 'zero-Covid' rules

© Reuters stringer

Judging by Friday's quiet streets in China's capital Beijing and the adherence to virus curbs by some city eateries, the anxieties created by 'zero-Covid' policies are likely to hamper a quick return to health for the world's second-largest economy.

Although the government on Wednesday loosened key parts of the strict controls that kept the pandemic largely at bay for the past three years, many people and businesses appear wary of being too quick to shake off the shackles.

In the central city of Wuhan, where the pandemic erupted in late 2019, there were more signs of life with some areas busy with commuters on Friday. But locals say a return to normal is still a long way off.

"They've relaxed the measures but still, there’s nobody about," said a taxi driver surnamed Wang, who didn't want to give his full name.

"You see these roads, these streets ... they ought to be, busy, full of people. But there’s no one. It’s dead out here."

Yet China has been anything but placid during the past few weeks, with protests against Covid curbs in many cities across the country that marked the biggest show of public discontent since President Xi Jinping came to power a decade ago.

Some of those protesters, scooped up by China's security apparatus, now face an anxious wait about their fate.

Changing mind-set

But there are signs the reassuring new message has still to convince many of the country's 1.4 billion people.

"There's going to be chaos."


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