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European business leaders and diplomats in China have urged Xi Jinping’s administration to change course from its controversial policy on stopping the spread of the coronavirus and putting the world’s second-biggest economy on a path to reopening as Beijing and Guangzhou teeter on the brink of citywide lockdowns.

Health officials reported a daily record of 31,987 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections on Friday, up more than 2,000 from Thursday. The Chinese capital is now partially closed with schools, offices and shopping malls mostly closed, restaurants closed to provide dine-in services and the city’s normally busy streets nearly empty.

In a letter sent to Yin Yong, the acting mayor of Beijing, Jörg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, expressed concern about the “increasingly strict controls of the epidemic” and the lack of “reasonable explanations” for the decisions to close businesses and residential buildings.

“A lack of adequate preparation has led county and/or community governments to manage recent outbreaks in much the same way they had done previously, by closing businesses — many of which were mandatorily closed despite not being in a high-risk area — and other venues. the public “.

“This is very worrying, given that Shanghai’s experience earlier this year showed that after long-term lockdowns, many foreign nationals are likely to leave China. This would be detrimental to Beijing’s goal of developing into an international city.”

Shanghai, China’s most important international financial city, was locked down for two months after a random outbreak.

Edward White in Seoul, Ryan McMorrow and Mikey Ding in Beijing, and Primrose Riordan, William Langley and Gloria Lee in Hong Kong

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