Starting from Nanjing Lukou International Airport on 20 July, at one point the latest wave of the pandemic in China spread to over 50 cities in 17 provinces, as the more transmissible and more severe Delta variant of the coronavirus posed the toughest challenge to China since the lockdown of Wuhan in April last year. However, after about a month of strict pandemic measures, China successfully controlled the spread of the Delta variant and brought down the number of locally transmitted cases to zero, becoming the first country to do so, demonstrating that China’s pandemic strategy does work.
The main characteristic of China’s pandemic strategy is its zero-Covid policy, bringing the number of cases to zero through strict lockdowns and repeated checks. In the short term, this has led to an enormous economic and social cost, which is perhaps a necessary price to pay. The coronavirus is severe and highly transmissible. For China with its large size and population, if pandemic controls are poor and the virus spreads, new clusters will keep emerging and there would be an even higher cost in eliminating the virus then, or it might even become impossible. So, from the start, China has taken a zero-tolerance approach, creating the conditions for resuming normal life through bringing cases down to zero.
In 2020, China’s actual use of foreign capital grew by 6.2% year-on-year, and grew by a stunning 35.4% in the first five months of this year.
China’s zero-Covid policy has helped economy stay afloat
In fact, China’s unique measures have brought great benefits. Once cases are down to zero, the economy and people’s lives quickly go back to normal; companies get back to work and production, and the domestic economy has seen positive growth. Last year, China was the only major economy that maintained positive economic growth.
At the same time, China’s contribution to the world economy has increased. China has provided a lot of pandemic supplies and basic materials, stabilising global market supply and supporting the global economy. China has contributed over one-third of global economic growth, becoming the main contributor, which has strengthened China’s international status and influence.
During the pandemic, foreign investors have increased investments in China. In 2020, China’s actual use of foreign capital grew by 6.2% year-on-year, and grew by a stunning 35.4% in the first five months of this year. China’s strong capabilities shown amid a major crisis has increased the confidence of multinational companies in investing in China.
The thing about the coronavirus is that this public health crisis hit at the same time as an economic downturn. Only when the coronavirus is effectively controlled can there be confidence and motivation in economic recovery. China firmly believes that effective control of the virus is the logical condition for economic recovery, and getting its priorities straight is crucial.
Trust and satisfaction in the government is high, and social capital has gone up as a result.
Pandemic measures have boosted social resilience
The benefits of China’s strict virus measures are shown in society. China’s effective containment of the spread of the virus has made people more confident in overcoming crises. Any major public crisis is fundamentally a crisis of confidence. This pandemic has affected practically all areas of health, economy, and society, and pessimism about the future is more frightening than the disaster itself.
China’s effective control of the pandemic has greatly eased people’s fears. With the overall recovery of the economy, employment and livelihoods are more assured, which stops the public health crisis from becoming an economic crisis and a crisis of trust, and prevents social conflict from intensifying. People in China generally support the pandemic measures, showing high social responsibility and discipline. Trust and satisfaction in the government is high, and social capital has gone up as a result.
China’s strategy is perhaps the most effective way for it to handle the coronavirus, but it may not be something that other countries can replicate.
China has shown that only when no effort is spared to control the virus can we overcome the seemingly conflicting struggle between saving lives and livelihoods. If pandemic controls are not strong enough, it will be difficult for the economy to fully recover. Although strict pandemic measures will come at a great social cost in the short term, the long-term benefits are even greater, which makes the cost of strict controls worth it, because relatively speaking that cost may in fact be the lowest.
Over the past 18 months, there have been several beginnings of virus spread in various parts of China, and China’s strategy is tried and tested, even against the more transmissible Delta variant. Each country’s situation is different, and their strategies are also very different. China’s strategy is perhaps the most effective way for it to handle the coronavirus, but it may not be something that other countries can replicate.
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