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Chinese Embassy in UK briefs on China's COVID policy

Chinese Embassy in UK | Updated: 2023-01-06 22:30
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On January 6, 2023, the Chinese Embassy in the UK held a briefing on China's COVID situation and respond policies. Minister Counselor Bi Haibo, Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy, briefed the media and answered questions.

26 Journalists from ITV, Sky News, The Guardian, Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, NBC, People's Daily, Xinhua News Agency, China Central Television, China Global Television Network, China Daily, People's Daily Online and Phoenix TV attended the briefing.

Minister Counselor Bi introduced relevant information from four aspects:

First, since COVID began, China has always put the people and their lives above all else and based on China's reality, developed timely COVID policies that serve the interests of the greatest possible majority of the Chinese people. Over the past three years, we have effectively responded to five global COVID waves and avoided widespread infections with the original strain and the Delta variant, which are relatively more pathogenic than the other variants. We bought precious time for the research, development and application of vaccines and therapeutics, and for getting medical supplies and other resources ready. China has had the lowest rates of severe cases and mortality. Despite the pandemic, average life expectancy in China went up from 77.3 to 78.2 years. Even when the global Human Development Index dropped for two years straight, China went up six places on the Index. As a matter of fact, China has not only protected the lives and health of the people but also reduced the impact of the epidemic on economic and social development to the maximum extent possible. We have made great efforts and sacrifice to prevent the virus spread over the world.

Things change as the time goes by and we have to adjust with the changes. With the virus mutating, weakening and getting much less harmful to people's health and safety, and China's treatment, testing and vaccination capacity steadily on the rise, China has taken the initiative to refine its COVID response measures to reflect people' call on normal life, work, study and livelihood. China's COVID policy has entered a new stage as we issued steps to treat COVID-19 as a Class-B instead of Class-A infectious disease, shifting the focus of our response from stemming infection to caring for health and preventing severe cases. Relevant Chinese departments have worked actively to beef up medical resources, set up a multi-tiered and category-based diagnosis and treatment mechanism, and increased the production capacity and supply of medicines. We have mobilised as many resources as possible to protect the elderly with underlying health conditions, pregnant and lying-in women, children and other key groups, and made every effort to reduce severe cases and deaths. This shift is science-based, timely and necessary. This is also important from a strategic and long-term perspective for effectively coordinating COVID response with economic and social development and safeguarding the fundamental interests of the greatest majority of the people. We are not "lying flat" as some west media called which is utterly one-sided and simple misreading and even distortion on China's COVID policy.

Second, China's COVID situation on the whole remains predictable and under control. Beijing and other Chinese cities that have passed the peak of COVID are once again showing vitality. Resumption of work and production is gathering pace. The number of cars on the road is growing. The number of domestic flights is on the rise. Bookings of outbound flight is increasing. And more people start going to the cinema. More than 50 million people travelled for this year's new year holiday, and tourist attractions from across the country became popular destinations. Like London and other global cities in the world, Chinese cities including Shanghai and Wuhan saw joyous New Year's Eve celebrations. I have noticed that the British media have reported on these celebrations.

Relevant departments in China have made science-based assessment of the potential peaks some provinces and cities may face. They have made necessary preparations, and are confident that this process of COVID policy adjustment will go ahead in a steady and orderly way. These are the real and vivid pictures of what is happening in today's China. We believe that under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China, with the concerted effort of the over 1.4 billion Chinese people and with the backing of China's growing comprehensive national strength, we have full confidence, capability and certainty to secure the final victory of the fight against COVID-19 as early as possible. Many countries can't wait to welcome Chinese visitors while many people in the UK are looking forward to the realisation of the "China Tour".

Third, China has pursued COVID response and socioeconomic development in a science-based way and made important contribution to keeping the global industrial and supply chains stable and unimpeded and helping the world economy grow. In 2020, China was the first major economy in the world to achieve positive economic growth. China's economic aggregate exceeded 114 trillion yuan in 2021, and its GDP is estimated at more than 120 trillion yuan in 2022. In the past three years, China's economy has maintained an average annual growth rate of around 4.5 percent, significantly higher than the world average. In 2021, China's trade in goods exceeded 6 trillion US dollars, hitting another record, and this figure grew by 9.9 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters of 2022. While sharing its enormous market, China keeps providing cost-effective products to the world. In 2020, China surpassed the US to become the world's largest recipient of FDI. In 2021, China attracted a record 179 billion US dollars of foreign investment, growing by 20 percent year-on-year. In the first 11 months of 2022,China's annual FDI in actual use amounted to 178.08 billion US dollars, increasing by 12.2 percent. As the COVID-19 situation in China continues to improve, the effects of policies to stabilise economic growth continue to emerge, and the exchange of Chinese and foreign personnel becomes easier, China's long-subdued consumer demand will be released, investor confidence will be boosted. This is good news for not just China but the entire global economy. Many economic and financial institutes and experts have predicted that China's economy will rebound strongly, and the so-called fallacy that "China's economy under the epidemic would take a heavy toll or even threaten the world economy" will collapse itself.

Fourth, Since the outbreak of the COVID, as a responsible major country, China has adopted an open and transparent attitude from the very beginning, given timely notification to the international community of the onset of a new coronavirus, carried out international cooperation, and promoted the unity of the international community to fight the epidemic. Related departments in China have released relevant information in a timely, open and transparent manner in accordance with the law, and have shared viral genetic data on recent COVID infections in China via the Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data (GISAID). Over the past three years, China has carried out over 60 technical exchanges with the WHO, two of which were conducted after the release of the 10 new measures alone. We have launched the largest emergency humanitarian operation since the founding of the People's Republic of China. As of December 2022, China has supplied more than 2.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organisations, and provided hundreds of billions of anti-epidemic materials to 153 countries and 15 international organisations. Over the past three years, China has maintained close communication with the WHO and relevant countries and regions, and has sent anti-epidemic medical expert teams to 34 countries to share China's anti-epidemic experience with all parties without reservation, which has been highly praised by the international community. China will continue to make new and important contributions to promoting international cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 and building a community of health for mankind.

Minister Counselor Bi also answered questions on China's disclosure of epidemic information, production and supply of medical supplies, cooperation with the WHO and other issues.

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