SINGAPORE—Chinese leaders are considering steps toward reopening after nearly three years of tough pandemic restrictions but are proceeding slowly and have set no timeline, according to people familiar with the discussions.
Chinese officials have grown concerned about the costs of their zero-tolerance approach to smothering Covid outbreaks, which has resulted in lockdowns of cities and whole provinces, crushing business activity and confining hundreds of millions of people at home for weeks and sometimes months on end. But they are weighing those against the potential costs of reopening on public health and support for the Communist Party.
As a result, they are proceeding cautiously despite the deepening impact of the Covid policies, the people said, pointing to a long path to anything approaching pre-pandemic levels of activity, with the timeline stretching to sometime near the end of next year.
The uncertainty around China’s Covid-19 strategy has led to a guessing game in the financial markets, with some looking for any sign that China would begin easing its Covid policies. China’s Communist Party congress last month, when Chinese leader Xi Jinping claimed a third term, had once been viewed as a potential turning point in its battle against Covid, but little has changed in the country’s approach to containing Covid.