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  1. ITV Report

China's economy stalls amid months-long coronavirus crisis

  • Video report by ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward

Across Beijing, businesses have their shutters down and doors locked as the coronavirus numbers soar in China, its economy has stalled.

Now, two months in to this outbreak, travel restrictions and enforced quarantines are still preventing millions of people from returning to work.

"Our employees cannot travel, so we cannot consolidate those potential orders we have gathered before the spring festival," said Lu Tao

He is one of several Chinese CEOs not taking meetings - so sitting just a few miles apart in the Chinese capital, he spoke to ITV News via video link.

A common sight in China: many businesses are close amid the outbreak. Credit: ITV News

Production at his solar car and energy business has been suspended - and the company is running behind on orders.

"This will definitely cause some damage and loss to us, but we have not contemplated how much that will be yet because we do not know when everybody will get back to work," he said.

The government has laid on buses and even chartered flights to bring factory workers back this week. Getting supply chains up and running is the priority, but so too are new virus protection measures.

Every single industry across the whole country is being affected by the outbreak - and not only are billions worth of business being lost, but millions of people are facing unemployment.

Lu Tao's business has been severely affected by the crisis. Credit: ITV News

Small and medium sized businesses are expected to be among the worst hit, particularly those in the service and tourism sectors.

All of Catherine Lu's tours of China have been cancelled.

She told ITV News: "All my bookings in February, March, April - even June - have already cancelled. And every day you will receive many emails from clients requesting to refund for the deposit or their payments."

All of Catherine Lu's tours of China have been cancelled amid the crisis. Credit: ITV News

China's war against the coronavirus includes a battle to save its businesses and economy too.

The government is optimistic the impact will be short-term, but for the first time in decades. China could see its economy contract.

Growth is forecast to be zero per cent, or worse, for the first quarter of the year. The year as a whole could see the economy shrink by two per cent. Almost two thirds of companies say they face operation difficulties, and mass redundancies are possible.

A one per cent rise in employment would see 4.5 million people lose their jobs.