Xi Focus: The Chinese way of fighting coronavirus for safety, growth

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-09-30 10:55
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Deliveryman Li Yang (R) passes a package to a resident at a residential community in Bayan county of Harbin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, Sept 26, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING - For over a year, the ravaging pandemic has put policymakers worldwide under the same but unprecedented test: how to manage the intricate balance between safeguarding public health and mitigating the economic impacts.

Once the worst hit by the coronavirus but now one of the very first to have contained the epidemic and restarted the economy, China has had a clear and proven solution for the dilemma.

Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core, the country has walked a fine line between virus control and economic reopening, saved lives at all costs, fostered opportunities from the crisis, opened its door wider despite strict COVID-19 containment, and coordinated near-term tasks and long-term goals.

Efficient control

It took China only six weeks this summer to contain a round of COVID-19 resurgence attributable to the Delta variant, which first emerged in the airport of Nanjing in eastern China and quickly spread to multiple other cities.

Such quick and effective responses have been an essential part of the Chinese way to tame the virus. Back in 2020, Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, closed outbound traffic for 76 days from Jan. 23, 2020 to stem the spread of the virus.

Xi, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said making the decision required enormous political courage. "But time calls for resolute action. Otherwise, there would be trouble," he said.

Thanks to strict and effective control measures, the virus spread in China was contained in just over a month. In around two months, the daily increase in domestic coronavirus cases fell to single digits. And within approximately three months, a decisive victory was secured in the anti-COVID-19 battle in Wuhan and the whole of Hubei.

Since then, only sporadic outbreaks occurred in China, and they were all quickly brought under control thanks to accumulated experience and targeted measures.

Xi urged making the best strategic choices while weighing up the pros and cons. The remarks provide significant guidance in balancing virus control and resumption of economic activities.

China's targeted COVID-19 prevention and control measures have proved effective.

Domestically, authorities quickly clamped down on local flare-ups with measures like mass nucleic acid testing and targeted lockdowns, which always led to a quick and distinct downward trend in new infections while minimizing the impact on people's daily lives.

In September, high schools, primary schools, and kindergartens in most regions started the new semester on time, and cross-provincial travel also resumed in most areas.

China managed to maintain a fair number of international flights while strictly containing the spread of COVID-19 by introducing a reward and suspension mechanism. A flight suspension will be carried out if the number of passengers testing positive on the flight reaches a certain number.

The country currently sees more than 230 international passenger flights and around 3,700 international cargo flights every week, even though it suspended more than 300 inbound passenger flights since the reward and suspension mechanism was introduced in June last year.

The country has so far reported more than 120,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and around 5,600 deaths.

In comparison, the United States has recorded over 43 million COVID-19 cases, with about 690,000 deaths, according to the latest data.

Despite some criticism that China has invested too much in epidemic prevention and control, the country has achieved remarkable results at a relatively low cost.

China was the world's only major economy to post positive growth last year. Its GDP expanded 12.7 percent year on year in the first half (H1) of 2021, putting the average H1 growth for the past two years at 5.3 percent, said the National Bureau of Statistics.

Partly due to the need to cope with unusual circumstances, the country raised its deficit-to-GDP ratio in 2020.

Still, the overall deficit as a share of GDP in 2020 for China was lower than the average level for advanced economies, according to a report released by the International Monetary Fund in April this year.

China has gradually found a balance between preventing epidemics and promoting development, two seemingly conflicting goals.

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