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China can once again be catalyst for recovery

By Wilson Lee Flores | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-05-27 09:58
A visitor experiences artificial intelligence equipment at an exhibition in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, on April 28. [Photo by Meng Delong / For China Daily]

What is the significance of the second-largest economy in the world steadily recovering and setting no specific economic growth target for 2020?

For the first time since 2002, when China began publishing its GDP goals, the Chinese government has not set a target for the year.

While delivering the Government Work Report at the opening of this year's third session of the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang said, "We have not set a specific target for economic growth this year."

Instead, the government has made "proper adjustments to the targets that we were considering before COVID-19 struck" and "given priority to stabilizing employment and ensuring living standards", Li said.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting economic woes, with China still facing daunting domestic and external challenges, the country's adjustment of economic targets for 2020 is a wise and pragmatic decision.

This shows that the Chinese leaders' top priority is not the GDP, but social welfare, public health, employment, national unity and stability.

With the global economy slowing down because of the pandemic and other negative geopolitical factors, how China is going to cope with these issues has become crucial for the future of mankind.

If the resilient Chinese people and the pragmatic leaders can overcome tough domestic and external challenges to ensure economic development, social stability and strong unity, China would again become a catalyst for world economic recovery, similar to what happened in 2008.

Since China is the world's biggest trading nation, doing commerce with more than 120 countries and regions, and is the largest consumer market, with 1.4 billion people, and is a global leader in technology innovation and applications, the continued stability of its economy and foreign trade will have far-reaching benefits for all countries and companies.

China is now a source of hope for global recovery, and is looked upon as a catalyst for global recovery.

Hopefully, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative will continue steadily in order to help modernize infrastructure, upgrade communication, boost global trade and promote international cooperation.

During this global crisis and the rise of ugly protectionist politics in some societies, a stable China can boost trade and multilateral cooperation.

Whether in the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the World Health Organization or other organizations, a stable China can contribute to a global dialogue and consensus.

A recovering and stable China will also have a profound global impact due to its crucial links with the world's largest economy, the United States.

Despite some mistaken notions of some US politicians defaming and demonizing China for narrow, partisan purposes in their election year, China, as the largest foreign holder of US Treasury securities has, for years, helped finance the federal government debt and helped in keeping US interest rates low.

As the US' biggest merchandise trading partner and the biggest source of US imports, China has helped keep US consumer prices low.

Since China is the third-largest US export market, China's economic stability and recovery will have a positive impact on the US economy, which is reeling under a public health crisis and worsening recession.

In terms of containing the pandemic, a recovering Chinese economy will have more capabilities and resources to help other countries in fighting COVID-19, whether as a supplier or a donor.

China has become the world's top exporter of crucial medical supplies, having exported more than 21 billion face masks since March, in addition to personal protective equipment and ventilators.

During the pandemic, China should also increase its exports of traditional Chinese medicine, with its thousands of years of history and heritage, for public health worldwide.

The author is an analyst and columnist at The Philippine Star. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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