Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has warned of a “complicated and serious” employment situation as the country imposes sweeping shutdowns to contain Covid outbreaks.

Li called on all government departments and regions to prioritize measures to help businesses retain jobs and overcome current difficulties, according to a statement released on Saturday evening that cited the prime minister’s comments during a teleconference. National Employment.

“Stabilising employment is important for people’s livelihoods, it’s also a key support for the economy to operate within a reasonable range,” Li said, urging companies to resume production with measures. of fight against Covid in place.

Top Chinese leaders last week doubled down on the country’s Covid-Zero strategy, warning against any attempt to question the lockdown-dependent approach even as economic activity contracted sharply in April amid plant closures and supply chain disruptions.

China reported 4,384 new cases of Covid-19 for May 7. Shanghai, which has been in some form of lockdown for weeks, recorded 3,975 new infections, up from more than 4,000 daily infections earlier. The financial center announced on Saturday that it would postpone college and high school entrance exams until July, while some of the city’s biggest manufacturers said they were trying to restart factories.

Beijing has registered 62 new cases as authorities in the capital scramble to contain a wider spread. Its eastern district of Chaoyang, home to embassies and offices of multinationals including Apple Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., ordered the closure of some businesses providing non-essential services such as gyms and cinemas to minimize infections.

Li reiterated at the meeting that China will also promote the healthy development of internet platform companies to support employment.

Chen Yulu, vice governor of the People’s Bank of China, said the central bank would put more emphasis on stabilizing growth and increasing support for the real economy. In an interview with Xinhua published on Saturday, Chen also said authorities would help smaller banks increase their lending capacity through the sale of perpetual bonds.

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