Halting China's economy was hard, but restarting it is harder

A masked employee at a car factory in Shanghai in February - before the Chinese authorities virtually shut down the world's second-largest economy to stop the coronavirus outbreak. Now, factories are re-opening but face new problems. Tens of millions
A masked employee at a car factory in Shanghai in February - before the Chinese authorities virtually shut down the world's second-largest economy to stop the coronavirus outbreak. Now, factories are re-opening but face new problems. Tens of millions of labourers cannot get to work. And even when workers come back, Chinese businesses may find overseas demand for their exports slumping because of worsening coronavirus outbreaks in other countries.PHOTO: REUTERS

SHANGHAI • China is starting to get back to work. More than six weeks after its leaders virtually shut down the world's second-largest economy to stop a relentless coronavirus outbreak, factories are reopening and offices filling up.

That is little solace to Mr Zhang Xu. Piles of windshields - some broken, others new and ready to be installed - sit untouched at his car repair shop in a blue-collar neighbourhood in Shanghai. One of his two employees is still stuck in a faraway village. But that matters little, because Mr Zhang has no customers.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2020, with the headline 'Halting China's economy was hard, but restarting it is harder'. Subscribe