On Thursday, June 16, Nicholas Burns, the American envoy in Beijing, said that he expects Beijing’s zero-Covid to persist into early 2023.
In an online event hosted by the Brookings Institution think-tank, the envoy said, “My own assumption is that we’ll see the continuation of ‘zero COVID’ probably into the beginning months of 2023. That’s what the Chinese government is signaling.”
Burns added that it also remains unknown which direction the communist regime will apply to its economy.
According to Burns, Beijing has sent unclear messages about whether it would continue to crack down on specific sectors, such as technology.
As for the investment prospect in China, the envoy said that the harsh lockdown of Shanghai, the financial hub, has resulted in American businesspeople leaving the nation.
Citing the local chamber of commerce’s surveys and conversations, Burns said that companies remain uncertain about further investment amid Beijing’s uncertainties, particularly over Covid travel rules.
Burns said, “I think there’s a hesitancy to invest in future obligations until they can see the end of this.”
Regarding the diplomatic relation with the U.S., the envoy criticized Beijing for censoring Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s May speech on U.S. policy toward China on China’s social media platforms. In the speech, Blinken said that Washington expected Beijing to adhere to international rules.
He said, “We put the speech on Weibo, and WeChat. And it was censored in about two and a half hours. Just taken away.”
Burns added that the post was repeatedly removed after the Embassy’s several efforts to repost it.