Health, wealth no zero-sum game in China's COVID battle
In the face of mounting uncertainties due to COVID-19, one thing remains certain – China will stick to its dynamic zero-COVID policy that has proven pragmatic and effective.
That steadfast commitment, reaffirmed by the Communist Party of China leadership at a high-level meeting last week, came as the COVID-hit city of Shanghai has seen infections fall over the past 10-plus days and many manufacturers, including Tesla, gradually resume operations.
Shanghai's response is a continuation of China's dynamic anti-COVID measures, which the world's most populous country has constantly fine-tuned and optimized according to the fluid reality.
Beijing's attempts to juggle the COVID response and the economic and social development, which the Chinese leaders have stressed since the pandemic began, have proven efficacious.
The country of a 1.4 billion population always upholds the philosophy that protecting health and wealth during a pandemic is by no means a zero-sum game.
All anti-epidemic measures naturally come at a price, and there has been short-term downward pressure on the Chinese economy. However, claiming that this will stifle the expansion of the world's second-largest economy is as shortsighted as it is irresponsible.
Over the longer term, China will benefit economically from the dynamic zero-COVID approach. It has, so far, prevented many deaths at home and seen the country's industries come through the pandemic largely unscathed.
Mass quarantine, large-scale testing, and closed-off management all take a toll on the economy. But once the outbreak is under control, the economy is expected to maintain its resilience and extend its track record of growth with policy support.
That has been demonstrated as Chinese cities once plagued by the pandemic, such as Shenzhen, still registered stable growth in the first quarter after waves of flare-ups died down thanks to China's zero-COVID strategy. In a report on Shenzhen this week, South China Morning Post focused on the factories in the Chinese technology hub running at near or full capacity while adhering to China's dynamic zero-COVID policy. The report said: "it has so far helped the government walk a fine line."
By only sealing off cities or areas that have seen spikes in infections, launching swift screening and massive inoculation encouragement, and pledging ramped-up efforts to stabilize the economy, China has managed the economic side effects of its COVID-fighting measures and made its zero-COVID policy sustainable.
China's war against COVID-19 is by no means an ideological campaign that "sacrifices its economic growth," as some Western media portrayed it. It's essentially a war to protect people's lives – the foundation for all economic development.
China's scientifically-based and precise reaction to the virus and an array of pro-growth policies explain why the Chinese economy is off to a steady start this year, with its GDP up 4.8 percent year on year in the first three months.
The taming of the virus, a universal challenge facing the world, necessitates customized and responsive solutions that guarantee the best outcomes. The one that China has been adhering to is such a solution that suits itself.