China’s industrial companies’ profits grew at a faster pace in March from a year earlier, despite the impact on the economy from widening Covid-19 outbreaks and the Russian war on Ukraine, official data showed on Wednesday.
The data come as at least 20 million Beijing residents prepared to take Covid-19 tests after the Chinese capital ramped up plans for mass testing and fuelled worries about a looming Shanghai-style lockdown.
Beijing recorded 31 locally transmitted confirmed Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, the country’s state broadcaster CCTV said on Wednesday. It had registered 33 new cases on Monday.
Industrial profits in March rose 12.2% on year ago levels, according to calculations based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The pace of profit growth accelerated from the first two months of the year. Industrial profits in the combined January-February period were 5% higher than a year earlier.
For January-March, industrial firms’ profits were up 8.5% on a year before, down 3.8 percentage points compared with the last quarter in 2021, according to the NBS.
China’s gross domestic product expanded by 4.8% in the first quarter from a year earlier, beating analysts’ expectations, and quickened from 4.0% in the fourth quarter.
Stocking up on Food
The economy is set to take further hits as authorities closed some gyms, theatres and tourist sites after Beijing began testing the residents of Chaoyang, its most populous district.
Medical workers would conduct tests on 10 other districts and one economic development zone by Saturday.
Many in Beijing flocked to supermarkets to stock up on food and supplies fearing sudden localised lockdowns.
Beijing’s decision to test most of its total population of 22 million days after detecting a small number of infections contrasts with Shanghai, which waited for about a month after its outbreak began before moving to city-wide mass testing in early April.
Three rounds of polymerase chain reaction tests will be conducted in several districts.
In Haidian district, Liu Wentao, a cook leaving his dorm to get tested, said he was concerned at how fast the virus was spreading, though confident Beijing could avoid locking down like Shanghai.
“Beijing is the capital, the virus controls are stronger than in other places, I don’t think it will be like Shanghai, where it suddenly increases to thousands of cases,” Liu said.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell