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1. China earlier today announced a loosening of its zero-COVID policy in a marked shift away from virus curbs that triggered nationwide unrest, putting the country on course to living with the respiratory illness. People who are asymptomatic, or who have mild infections, will now be allowed to quarantine at home, rather than being forced into government facilities, while mass PCR testing -- a key feature of government efforts to quash even small outbreaks -- will be largely abandoned. Among the newest changes, people traveling between regions will no longer have to supply a negative COVID test. "The additional...measures are aimed at maximizing people's health and safety while minimizing the impact of the pandemic on economic and social development," Li Bin, an official at the National Health Commission, told a press briefing. "We will continue to ... optimize and improve prevention and control measures." (Source: asia.nikkei.com)
2. China's debt as a percentage of its economy hit a fresh high at the end of June, with local authorities borrowing heavily to underpin an economy weighed down by the central government's zero-COVID policy. Credit to the nonfinancial sector came to $51.87 trillion, or 295% of gross domestic product, to mark the highest debt-to-GDP ratio in data going back to 1995, in statistics released Monday by the Bank for International Settlements. The percentage topped the previous peak marked at the end of 2020 even as a weak economy discouraged borrowing by private companies and households. The leverage ratio likely has grown even higher since, according to the Beijing-backed think tank National Institution for Finance and Development. (Sources: asia.nikkei.com, bis.org)