Coronavirus Costs China’s Economy

By Penny Zhou

The Novel Coronavirus is taking a toll on the lives and health of the Chinese people—and also its economy.

At least 3 entire Chinese provinces and 65 cities, including some of the country’s most populous areas, are under various levels of lockdown in an effort to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Some neighborhoods and villages in China are issuing permits to control who can leave their house—and when. Each family can go out only one every two days and has to be back in time, or face forced quarantine.

“It’s almost like putting everyone in prison. This is like another form of imprisonment,” said Jingyuan Tang, a China affairs commentator. He said the restrictions are having an impact across many industries. Restaurants are closed, transportation has shut down, and retail and tourism are also suffering.

“It’s almost like taking a nose dive,” said Tang. “Many businesses just stopped operating overnight. This type of impact can be deadly for some.”

China’s service sector has probably been impacted most by the lockdown, accounting for over 50 percent of the country’s GDP.

Economists estimate that the sector lost over $100 billion in just a week during the Lunar New Year holiday in late January.

But it’s not just about direct loss of money.

“It can also lead to changes and shifts in the supply chain,” Tang said. “If the disease cannot be controlled within a short period of time, many foreign companies may withdraw from mainland China, which could cause a surge of unemployment.”

International retailers including Starbucks, McDonald’s, and IKEA, have closed some or all of their stores in China.

A Japanese chain store decided to permanently close all seven locations in China, citing its daily revenue sinking to a twentieth of pre-outbreak levels.

Infectious disease expert Reejev Fernando previously told NTD that China should have been gradually escalating disease control measures, instead of first trying to cover up the outbreak then putting parts of the country on lockdowns overnight.