beijing empty streets
Here's why streets are empty in Beijing despite ease of Covid restrictions
03:15 - Source: CNN
Hong Kong CNN  — 

Beijing has vowed to go all out next year to save its Covid-hit economy by boosting consumption and loosening control over private industry, including the struggling tech and property sectors. The new pledge marks a big shift from leader Xi Jinping’s years-long effort to rein in private businesses, which were perceived as too powerful and “disorderly.”

The world’s second biggest economy faces multiple challenges. Covid infections are surging in China after leaders unexpectedly eased its restrictive Covid policy earlier this month. At the same time, its exports have been hurt by a slump in global demand.

Stabilizing economic growth is the top priority for 2023, according to an official readout following the conclusion of the Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC), a key annual meeting of top leaders, which ended Friday.

“We need to encourage and support the private sector economy and private enterprise in terms of policy and public opinion,” the statement said. “We must protect the property rights of private enterprise and the interests of entrepreneurs in accordance with the law.”

The remarks came shortly after a slew of economic data showed business activity plummeting in November. Economists are expecting growth between 2.8% and 3.2% in 2022, one of the lowest levels since 1976, when former leader Mao Zedong’s death ended a decade of social and economic tumult.

The comments from China’s top leaders are a strong signal that policymakers will be relaxing their ironclad grip on the country’s private sector, which had previously been a strong driver of consumption, investment, and job creation.

“The conference switched its previous stringent regulatory tone on digital platforms,” analysts at Nomura said Monday, referring to technology companies such as Alibaba (BABA) and Tencent (TCEHY).

“It did not mention anything about antitrust regulations,” they said. “And instead vowed to promote China’s digital economy, as platform firms c