“I think we will have to live with this for a long time. My own assumption is that we will probably see the continuation of zero-Covid until early 2023”, Ambassador Nicholas Burns told the Brookings Institute.
Burns, in conversation with the Washington video link think tank from Beijing said the lockdowns disrupted supply chains and made foreign companies wait before considering further investments.
“This is just too important a market for countries to exit, so we don’t see many companies exiting the lock, stock and barrel,” burns said.
But from his talks with US companies, Burns said, “I think there’s a lot of reluctance to invest in future liabilities until they see the end of this.”
The US Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai said in a recent survey that a quarter of US companies scaled back investment plans and nearly all dropped their revenue forecasts after the business center closed.
Covid-19 was first detected in the closing days of 2019 in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan, where rare public displays of anger over the government’s failure to stop its spread were seen.
Beijing has since vowed to beat the global pandemic and is the only major economy trying to prevent cases, imposing massive testing requirements and forcing millions of people to stay at home at once.
Burns said the lockdowns also hampered diplomacy with China, whose relationship with the United States he recently described as falling to the lowest point since ties began half a century ago.
“It’s hard to convince any of my colleagues in Washington to come here when I tell them that if they do, they’ll have to quarantine for 14 days before they can have a single meeting,” he said.