Asian Insider: China's Covid-19 quandary | Sri Lanka’s cascading crises

Dear ST reader,

China is feeling the impact of its tough zero-Covid-19 strategy, both economically and politically. In Sri Lanka, the economic crisis shows little sign of abating.

China's Covid-19 quandary

President Xi Jinping has said China will stick to its zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19 even as public anger simmers after millions were forced into lockdown amid surging infections.

The economic impact of the lockdown of its financial hub Shanghai, now into its second week, as well as other cities like tech hub Shenzhen, is being felt. Latest data shows that the tough measures are costing China about US$46 billion (S$62.8 billion) a month. 

In a year when the government set an ambitious target of 5.5 per cent economic growth, how much longer can Beijing afford to keep ordering cities to lock down? China correspondents Elizabeth Law and Aw Cheng Wei report.

The situation is also posing a political challenge for Mr Xi, who is widely expected to seek a third term in power at the twice-a-decade party congress later this year, writes China correspondent Danson Cheong.

Life under lockdown: Experiences of Singaporeans in Shanghai

Analysis: Will current crises cost Xi Jinping?

Podcast: China bureau chief Tan Dawn Wei discusses the ripple effect of Beijing's zero Covid-19 strategy

Sri Lanka's cascading crises

SPH Brightcove Video
After a week of angry protests in various places, thousands converged on Saturday (April 9) in Colombo's iconic seafront, Galle Face Green, in what at times felt like a carnival of hope.

As anti-government protests continue in Sri Lanka, the government this week announced that it would halt payments on its foreign loans to free up its foreign exchange reserve for critical imports of essentials such as food, fuel and medicine. But experts say the move would only bring brief relief to the embattled Rajapaksa government.

Read more about the country's worst economic crisis since its independence in this Saturday's Asian Insider special with ground reports by India correspondent Rohini Mohan. 

Still in South Asia, Pakistan's Parliament has elected Mr Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister after ousting Imran Khan. But analysts say the political tension is unlikely to ease amid a deteriorating economy

In-depth: Imran Khan taps into anti-US sentiment in Pakistan

No easy one-horse race

Mr John Lee has formally submitted his candidacy to run in Hong Kong’s May 8 chief executive election. Although he is expected to be the sole candidate, the former chief secretary said it would not be an easy race and vowed to work on ways to "tell the Hong Kong story well", assistant foreign editor Magdalene Fung reports.

Special report: What's next for Hong Kong after Carrie Lam? 

Anti-hopping law faces hurdles

Aussie polls

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called a federal election for May 21 and is hoping to defy opinion polls that indicate his ruling coalition is headed for defeat. 

As campaigning kicked off this week, one of the issues in focus would be climate change. But analysts say both sides of the political aisle have weak climate policies despite growing public concerns, reports Jonathan Pearlman. 

Fighting heat and saving forests

It's hot hot hot in India. Last month saw an average maximum temperature of 33.1 deg C, making it the hottest March since 1901. This puts the heat on the government to boost its heat resilience to protect vulnerable groups, India correspondent Debarshi Dasgupta reports.

In Indonesia, a carbon project developer aims to replant mangroves and reduce deforestation over the next two years, reports Indonesia correspondent Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja.

Ramadan cheers

Bazaars and group gatherings are back in Asia during Ramadan this year as countries ease Covid-19 curbs. ST correspondents look at how Muslims in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and India are marking the holy month.

Want more insights into fast-changing Asia from our network of correspondents? Get this article in your inbox by signing up here.