Beijing is back to work as China fights criticism

STORY: Beijing residents tentatively returned to work on Thursday after a muted five-day Labour Day holiday.

As China pledged to fight any criticism of its uncompromising "zero-COVID" policy.

In Beijing, the capital's streets were less hectic than normal, as home working is being encouraged and scores of bus and subway routes were closed.

The city is trying to stop the spread of COVID and avoid the fate of Shanghai where millions of residents have been under strict lockdown for more than a month.

Although Beijing’s caseload remains modest by global standards - with 39 new symptomatic cases reported on Thursday (May 5), the fast spreading Omicron variant is proving to be a vital test of China's strategy to eliminate all COVID transmission.

State television reported on Thursday that China "will resolutely fight any comments and actions that distort, doubt and repudiate our country's anti-epidemic policies," following a meeting of the country's highest decision-making body.

Relaxing COVID controls would lead to large-scale infections, state television said.

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, an official said on Thursday (May 5) that authorities have found it difficult to strike the correct balance between curbing infections and allowing firms to resume operations.

While some residents have been getting haircuts in locked-down residential compounds, in other areas, no one is allowed outside even though their community's risk level has been officially downgraded.

China's uncompromising "zero-COVID" policy increasingly contrasts with the attitude of the rest of the world which is trying to live with the disease.

And it threatens the country's official growth target of around 5.5% this year.

The European Chamber of Commerce in China said on Thursday EU firms were increasingly looking to move their investments to other markets.

China argues its COVID policy is saving lives, which makes the heavy economic and psychological costs of the lockdowns worth it.

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