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China’s COVID lockdowns worry Biden



AS COVID-19  lockdowns in China begin to ripple through the U.S. economy, President Joe Biden’s economic troubles appear to be  getting worse, even as administration officials, foreign policy experts and corporate executives warn of a potential “China time bomb” .

  According to GOP strategist, weeks of lockdowns in Shanghai have disrupted the flow of a variety of products, from computer parts to cars. 

  Reports say that the upheaval in China adds one more economic pressure point ahead of the midterm elections, with voters saying the economy and inflation are their top concerns. What’s more, officials in Washington fear it’s a problem largely out of their control.

  A senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va said: “No question it’s going to have an impact on supply chains, but it’s also just going to have an impact on global commerce. It’s of great concern.”

  CEOs and Wall Street analysts have been warning in recent weeks of another wave of product shortages, particularly in the tech sector, that will add to already record inflation. Just how bad those effects will be depends on whether Chinese President, Xi Jinping continues his zero COVID policy throughout the country or lessens it in the face of domestic backlash. 

  In Ohio, China policy is proving to be a focal point of one of this fall’s highest-profile Senate races. Rep. Tim Ryan, who is running as the Democratic Senate nominee, said he is “super worried” about the potential for a significant worsening of the supply chain crisis fueled by China’s lockdowns and zero COVID policy. Ryan said Democrats and the White House need to more clearly communicate the role China and Russia are playing in the supply chain crisis.

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  “I don’t think you’re going to see a correction because of the zero-tolerance policy in China any time soon,” Ryan, who has made China a focus of his campaign, said of the Chinese government’s efforts to contain the spread of COVID. “The way they’ve handled the whole thing is problematic.”

  His opponent, Republican J.D. Vance, has also zeroed in on China. Both Ryan and Vance say short-term options to combat worsening conditions in China are limited, with each suggesting a tax cut to counteract additional inflation or shortages as one of limited options lawmakers can pursue.

  “We’re going to have to solve the root causes, not just paper over them with some short-term stuff, even though that would be helpful,” said Vance, a strong critic of long-standing U.S. trade policy with China, adding, “Unfortunately, we’re in a very tough spot because of decisions that were made 30 years ago.”

  There are daily discussions among officials at the White House, the State Department, the Commerce Department and the Transportation Department about lockdowns’ disrupting production and the supply chain amid growing anxiety over the limited control the U.S. has over the situation in China, officials said.

  “There’s a lot of concern that that is what’s out of our control,” said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to talk to the media.

  So far, the White House hasn’t seen a slowdown in goods coming from Asia as companies have shifted their operations to other parts of China and Asia, a White House official said. But officials continue to watch the data closely, as it can take time for the effects to ripple through the supply chain, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record.

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  “It is something we know is very important and could have a big impact on our economy, and we are watching it very closely,” the official said. “Our economy is strong, but it is also interconnected to the global economy.”

  In the meantime, administration officials continue to work with the ports to help them clear the cargo coming in so they are prepared for any potential surge of shipments from Shanghai once operations there normalise.

  To help lower the overall cost of products coming from China, Biden said during his trip to Asia this month that he was considering the politically sensitive move of rolling back some of the Trump administration’s tariffs on China. Biden said he would discuss the issue with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who has criticized the tariffs as doing more harm than good.

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