China emerges from health crisis to fast-track economic growth
Azhar Azam
A migrant worker from Xiantao, central China's Hubei Province, receives a body temperature check upon arrival at Zhongshan City, south China's Guangdong Province, March 17, 2020. /Xinhua

A migrant worker from Xiantao, central China's Hubei Province, receives a body temperature check upon arrival at Zhongshan City, south China's Guangdong Province, March 17, 2020. /Xinhua

Editor's note: Azhar Azam works in a private organization as a market and business analyst and writes about geopolitical issues and regional conflicts. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

After there was no locally transmitted case of COVID-19 for a third consecutive day in China, it is a time not to unwind but to man up and revive the second largest economy of the world.

The Chinese government has already stepped up its efforts to support jobs by fast-tracking targeted tax and fee cuts for firms, reimbursing more unemployment insurance premiums to domestic companies that save jobs and subsidizing small organizations that hire college graduates on contract for longer than a year.

The ambitious fiscal measures coupled with slashing the operational costs and resumption of activities at key firms and projects – especially in manufacturing, construction, logistics, and public services – would resolve the critical understaffing issue and hold the key to give a stimulus to the country's economy.

Local governments actions – to help top 9,138 manufacturers recruit 370,000 workers and arrange chartered trains, buses and flights to take more than 4.1 million migrant workers back to work – would surely ease labor shortages and more importantly, lubricate the Chinese economic wheel to whirl at a rapid pace and reduce the people's financial stress.

About 100 million migrant workers have so far come back to work after being staved off by COVID-19 for more than two and a half months. The arrival of nearly 80 percent of the returnees to their hometown, ahead of the Spring Festival, is the reflection that echoed production is resuming and gaining momentum in the country.

Under China's economic reforms, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – estimated at over 38 million in 2019 – have been one of the major driving forces of the national economy. Beijing's special focus on small businesses, which would save these businesses up to 500 billion yuan through June – should bolster them and assist the government in streamlining the state's economy.

These far-reaching and production-friendly policies will considerably alleviate the pecuniary burdens on manufacturing companies and would help to hack the unemployment rate that cruised to 6.2 percent in February. However, it shouldn't be ignored that amid the health crisis phase, Beijing still managed to create 1.08 million new urban jobs in the first two months of 2020.

While the global financial behemoths such as BlackRock and JPMorgan are ramping up their investments in China's financial hub of Shanghai, the return of international basketball players including Jeremy Lin from the U.S. is also the rising trust on Chinese well-fought victory against the COVID-19.

Other than a few U.S. mouthpieces who characterized that the coronavirus outbreak had stoked an intense blow to the country's economy, Chinese effort to snuff out the pandemic and blunt the COVID-19 largely drew applause from the top global health and economic regulators, the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

An aircraft carrying medical aid from China to help Spain combat COVID-19 arrives at Zaragoza airport in northern Spain, March 17, 2020. /Xinhua

An aircraft carrying medical aid from China to help Spain combat COVID-19 arrives at Zaragoza airport in northern Spain, March 17, 2020. /Xinhua

On Friday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus again applauded Chinese success in controlling the outbreak in the hardest-hit Wuhan as proof that the disease is not insurmountable. His urge – to tow inspiration from China's fight against coronavirus that "provides hope for the rest of the world that even the most serious situation can be turned around" – should obliterate any leftover doubts about Beijing's overriding control over the disease.

Showing concerns on the serious global economic implications of the pandemic, IMF officials lauded Beijing on March 20 stating China's experience shows "the right policies make a difference in fighting the disease and mitigating its impacts." They also cautioned about some risks but their comments about "reassuring signs of economic normalization" in the country translated into a rich belief in Chinese quick monetary actions.

Right from the onset of 2020 following the sudden outbreak, China had to make a hard choice either to deploy its resources in protecting the health, life and economic survival of the people or prevent the economy from a hard landing. The government rightly prioritized the former without ignoring the latter through an innovative mix of planned tactics to support vulnerable households and smaller firms by waiving social security fees, utility bills and channeling credit via fintechs.

The nonpareil and novel blend of state social and economic measures – through arrangement of subsidized credit to scale up the production of healthcare equipment and other critical activities – China not only neutralized the dire COVID-19 challenge but also shielded its economy from significant disruption.

As the disease has almost been almost wiped out from the country, the massive Beijing-built healthcare production structure isn't standing idly but instead unleashing a silver lining for its economy. The more wired Chinese capability in manufacturing medical diagnostic apparatus and accessories including masks and other personal protective goods can be redirected to meet growing domestic and international market demand that is encountering a famine of diagnostic items.

From now onwards, China will be more prepared to confront any potential danger of epidemic emergence with a futuristic approach. As COVID-19 jolts Europe and North America and threatens to infiltrate other regions, Beijing is playing an assertive role as well in guarding the world from the pandemic by extending its expertise and providing medical supplies to struggling governments.

So, a strong China is in the interest of the world since it has always called on social and economic cooperation to settle differences and resolve disputes. By clobbering COVID-19 and taking sweeping fiscal measures at home, Beijing has laid the foundation for its own and global economic revival and showed how a country can emerge from crisis and get back on the path of development through resolute will and robust risk management.

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