China's dynamic zero-COVID policy highlights respect for human rights
Huang Yongfu
A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident for nucleic acid test at a COVID-19 testing site in north China's Tianjin Municipality, May 15, 2022. /Xinhua

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a resident for nucleic acid test at a COVID-19 testing site in north China's Tianjin Municipality, May 15, 2022. /Xinhua

Editor's note: Huang Yongfu is an economic affairs commentator. After earning a PhD, he started his career at the University of Cambridge and then moved on to the UN system. His current interests lie in global development and Sino-U.S. links. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The second global COVID-19 summit held on May 12 in Washington called for redoubling global efforts to control the COVID-19 pandemic, when Omicron and other COVID-19 variants are still wreaking havoc in many parts of the world, and the U.S. and the EU has surpassed the marks of one million and two million deaths, respectively.

However, recently some Western business leaders and media have relentlessly and purposefully blamed China's dynamic zero-COVID approach for higher costs and disrupted operations, doubted the necessity of the policy and depicted it as containing a draconian lockdown confining tens of millions of people to their homes across the country.

China has been sticking to the dynamic zero-COVID policy to defeat the outbreak and help buy time to build up its vaccination program, the most effective means of saving lives.

Most wealthy nations have refused to adopt China's policy and attacked it for being too costly. A laissez faire strategy of living with the virus has been adopted which places capitalist interests above people's interests, avoiding severe disruption to business and daily life.

So far, China's dynamic zero-COVID policy has proven successful, making China one of the countries with the lowest infection and mortality rates, a COVID-19-free existence for a large majority of its citizens and the least possible economic disruption.

According to data from Worldometers, China's death rate from COVID-19 is 0.5 percent of that of the United States. As reported by the Economist, the Chinese economy expanded by 10.5 percent in the past two years, compared with 2.4 percent in America and 0.4 percent in advanced economies generally.

Unfortunately, it is geopolitical tension that makes it difficult for Westerners to dispassionately evaluate China's COVID-19 response. Rather, it tends to muddy the achievements of China's anti-COVID-19 policy, followed by growing mistrust and disproven rumors.

Undoubtedly, those comments and criticism that distort, doubt and deny China's pandemic prevention policies are without foundation and should be dismissed. Furthermore, China's dynamic zero-COVID policy embodies the government's respect for human rights and people's trust in the government.

Residents show their nucleic acid test reports before entering a market in Jiading Distirct in east China's Shanghai, May 9, 2022. /Xinhua

Residents show their nucleic acid test reports before entering a market in Jiading Distirct in east China's Shanghai, May 9, 2022. /Xinhua

First, the Chinese government's respect for human rights is widely appreciated. Since the early outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, the Chinese government has been unwaveringly committed to "putting people and lives above all else," no matter how costly an economic hit could be.

A comprehensive grassroots network has been set up inclusive of medical staff, community workers and volunteers to carry out mass-testing, tracking people and quarantining the infected along with widespread travel restrictions across the country.

On the international front, when many countries in the Global South are still in desperate need of vaccines to protect their most vulnerable populations, high-minded pledges from wealthy nations, for example over a billion doses from the United States, have yet to be translated into action.

China has provided more than 2.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations. 

Second, people's trust in the Chinese government is growing. In spite of suffering inconvenient livelihoods, deprived freedom, disrupted travel and separation from family under lockdown, ordinary Chinese people appear to be supportive of and cooperative with the dynamic zero-COVID policy. Enlisted to act as medical staff, community workers and volunteers, millions of ordinary Chinese have demonstrated incredible trust in the government at all levels and been endowed with great momentum, tenacity and social responsibility to combat the virus.

A study in the Lancet aiming to explain why some countries had lower COVID-19 infection and death rates than others finds that it is trust that makes a difference. The more citizens trust the government, or each other, the more likely they comply with social distancing, contact tracing and mandates, and the more effectively a country dealt with COVID-19. On the contrary, where trust is lacking, citizens are less likely to comply with a government's policy.

It is the combination of the Chinese government's respect for human rights and people's trust in the government that has made the country the safest place to live and a sound destination for investment, while making substantive progress toward achieving well-rounded human development and common prosperity for all ahead.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

Search Trends