Xi Pushing to Beat USA GDP Despite Covid

WSJ Headline: China’s Xi Pushing to Beat the U.S. in GDP Growth Despite Covid Lockdowns

WSJ Subheadline: Topping U.S. economy required to demonstrate superiority of China’s one-party system, Chinese leader tells officials


SINGAPORE—Chinese President Xi Jinping has told officials to ensure that the country’s economic growth outpaces the U.S.’s this year, according to people familiar with the discussions, even as its economy sags under its worst Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic began.

In meetings over the past few weeks, Mr. Xi told senior economic and financial officials that ensuring that the economy is stable and growing is important because it is critical to show that China’s one-party system is a superior alternative to Western liberal democracy, and that the U.S. is declining both politically and economically.

In response to Mr. Xi’s call to rev up growth, Chinese government agencies are discussing plans to accelerate big construction projects, especially in the manufacturing, technology, energy and food sectors, as well as to issue coupons to individuals to spur consumer spending, the people said.

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Official data show that China’s economy expanded in the first quarter but that lockdowns hit trade, retail spending and factory output in March as restrictions spread to major cities, highlighting the tension between stamping out infections and spurring growth. Many economists have marked down their expectations for Chinese growth this year, believing the economic costs of repeated efforts to stamp out the virus will offset any government stimulus.

The fast-spreading Omicron variant of coronavirus has propelled Covid-19 cases in China to a record this year and triggered lockdowns in regions including the northeastern industrial province of Jilin and the southern technology hub of Shenzhen.

Shanghai, China’s most populous city and financial and commercial hub, remains under heavy restrictions as authorities battle to contain an outbreak that has kept millions at home, shut factories and disrupted goods traffic to and from the city’s port, one of the world’s busiest.