With arduous efforts, China has basically brought under control the COVID-19 pandemic despite sporadic cases reported in some regions. Meanwhile, the global situation remains grim. Scientific findings suggest that the virus may be here to stay and coordinating a pandemic response with economic and social development will become a “new normal” for countries across the world going forward.
The “Two Sessions,” the annual meetings of China’s top legislature and political advisory body, contributed Chinese wisdom to achieving this goal, although this attention-grabbing annual political event was postponed to late May due to the pandemic.
COVID-19 dealt a heavy blow to the global economy with China being no exception. China’s GDP in the first quarter shrank 6.8 percent year-on-year and the major economic indicators from January to April also showed a downward trend. In the face of daunting economic prospects, China pledged to step up efforts to ensure stability on the six fronts of employment, financial sector, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment, and expectations, and maintain security in the six areas of job creation, basic living needs, operations of market entities, food and energy security, stable industrial and supply chains, along with the normal functioning of primary-level governments during the second half of 2020. These efforts aim to boost economic recovery and bring economic fundamentals back on track.
When delivering the Report on the Work of the Government to the Third Session of the 13th National People’s Congress, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said, “We need to pursue reform and opening-up as a means to stabilize employment, ensure people’s wellbeing, stimulate consumption, energize the market, and achieve stable growth. We need to blaze a new path that enables us to respond effectively to shocks and sustain a positive growth cycle.”
To this end, China will support the construction of new types of infrastructure, develop next-generation information networks and expand 5G applications, build more charging facilities and promote wider use of new-energy automobiles, stimulate new consumer demand, and promote industrial upgrading.
At the same time, governments at all levels will tighten their belts by cutting back on spending. The fiscal deficit will be increased, however, and a special transfer payment mechanism will be set up to ensure that funds go straight to prefecture and county governments and directly benefit businesses and people. Spending on people’s basic wellbeing will increase and over nine million new urban jobs will be created.
As planned, China will complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and stay on the path of high-quality development by the end of 2020. Eradicating poverty is a prerequisite for a society that is moderately prosperous. For the areas that remain trapped in absolute poverty, China is making every effort to overcome the adverse impacts of the pandemic and give priority to job creation for people in these areas. It has also pledged to help them rise out of poverty by boosting rural businesses, fostering talents, and protecting the environment and local culture.
A moderately prosperous society in all respects features a prosperous economy, flourishing science and technology, and affluent lives for the people. Meanwhile, in such a society, people enjoy justice and fairness, have their individual rights guranteed, and are able to pursue a diversified cultural life. People value fairness and quality in terms of housing, old-age care, education, medical care, and cultural progress. To ensure these aspects, China has to modernize its system and capacity for governance.
China unveiled guidelines on May 18 for accelerating the pace of building and improving a socialist market economic system, in which it pledges to improve its property rights system, market-based allocation of production factors, as well as the legal system for the market economy. This move clearly shows China’s stance on honoring market laws, as well as its resolution and confidence in improving the market system.
In the face of a pandemic, some Western media outlets choose to smear China’s image. Populism and parochial nationalism are on the rise. So are the anti-globalization sentiments and trade protectionism. In stark contrast, China has stuck to its fundamental principles for international relations. Following the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind, it has been working with the global international community to realize a joint pandemic response and solutions to various global conundrums and challenges.
At the 73rd World Health Assembly held on May 18, state leaders called for international cooperation to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and stressed the need of sharing vaccines and therapeutic plans for the disease across the globe. Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed six specific measures in his speech. They are, all-out efforts to contain the virus, supporting the World Health Organization, stronger assistance to African countries, enhanced coordination in global public health governance, efforts to reopen the economy, and strengthened international cooperation. On close examination, each of the measures Xi proposed is about cooperation and solidarity.
A pandemic respects no national borders. And the fallout of the COVID-19 will remain for some time to come. While continuing measures for pandemic prevention and control, countries across the world will adopt the strategy of reopening their economies, a trend which makes globalization unstoppable. China is always ready to contribute to global peace, security, and development.