An anti-Covid-19 slogan saying 'wear a mask, always wash your hands, check your temperature and no crowds' hangs near a Shanghai Railway Station bus stop. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Well, China’s dream of 5.5% growth this year sure sounded grand while it lasted.

Covid-19 has a different trajectory in mind for Asia’s biggest economy, with a big assist from President Xi Jinping’s government. The damage from Xi’s “zero-Covid” policy went from theoretical to official Monday with news the industrial output fell 2.9% in April from a year ago, far surpassing predictions from a gentler 0.5% contraction.

Retail sales shrank 11.1% in the same period, while unemployment climbed to 6.1%. The downshift is accelerating despite a 6.8% jump in fixed-asset investment in the first four months of the year to power Xi’s push to expand infrastructure spending.