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Chinese Government Adopts Measures To Help the Economy Get Back on Its Feet

Feb. 17, 2020 (EIRNS)—There is a push underway in China to focus on getting the economy back on its feet, in order to reverse the marked economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 virus and the stringent quarantine and other measures taken to control it.

An editorial in yesterday’s Global Times reported that “on Feb. 14, almost 30% of the nation’s workforce returned to major cities after the extended holidays” of the Chinese New Year. “If proper preventive measures are taken,” the editorial continued, “resuming economic activities might not be as frightening as some have suggested. In fact, there has been no major infection reported so far at factories and businesses that resumed operations last week.”

That same day, the Shanghai Institute for International Studies (SIIS) issued a report, “China’s Fight against COVID-19 Epidemic: A Decisive Campaign,” and its authors were interviewed by Global Times. SIIS President Chen Dongxiao was cautiously optimistic, saying that Hubei remains the epicenter of the problem, but,

“The rest of the country should be consolidating their achievements while continuing to support the epicenter. The vast majority of provinces excluding Hubei have witnessed a decline in newly confirmed cases for more than 10 consecutive days. As long as the trend is not reversed in the next one to two weeks, the inflection point of the epidemic will gradually appear in various regions.”

Secretary General for SIIS Research Center for International Cyberspace Governance Lu Chuanying stated that, outside of Hubei, the number of cases declined for the 11th consecutive day on Feb. 14. “It is highly likely this trend will continue next week,” said Lu. “Some provinces have even seen zero newly confirmed cases for several consecutive days.”

Associate Professor at SIIS Institute of Global Governance Liu Kan argued that “Major cities are the engines of the Chinese economy. Resuming economic activities as soon as possible in these cities—except for Wuhan—is important.”

None of this means that the government is relaxing its stringent quarantine and other policies. In fact, it was announced today that the government is “considering” postponing China’s “two sessions” annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and the National Political Consultative Conference, scheduled for March 3 and 5, in order to stay focused on combatting the virus. As Xinhua editorialized today, “China has entered the most crucial stage of fighting the novel coronavirus epidemic and must prevent any risks of rendering the previous sacrifices of the entire nation in vain.”

A Global Times editorial emphasized the need to get the economy up and running. There has been an

“unprecedented laser-focused campaign [that] China has waged against the epidemic—under which everything else was secondary, including the economy. However, we have already witnessed signs from top leaders that things will change. During two key meetings last week, the Standing Committee of the Central Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, leaders stressed the need to resume economic activities, while continuing the battle against the virus. Central government agencies have also followed up with fiscal and other concrete measures to help companies get back on their feet....

“The virus might cause further casualties, but the economy is directly linked to livelihoods of 1.4 billion people. China cannot afford to wait until COVID-19 is wiped out before it resumes business operations.”

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