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  09 Dec 2022, 15:14

Global economic chiefs laud China's 'decisive' zero-Covid reversal

HUANGSHAN, China, Dec 9, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Global economic leaders on Friday

hailed China's move away from its hardline zero-Covid policy, with the IMF
chief saying the "decisive actions" would help revive growth both in the
country and globally.

The relaxation would help to shore up a world economy struggling with the
impact of the pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the head of the
World Trade Organization said after the conference in the eastern city of
Huangshan, hosted by outgoing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Beijing on Wednesday announced a loosening of its zero-tolerance approach to
coronavirus outbreaks, ending large-scale lockdowns and allowing some
positive cases to isolate at home following widespread protests against the
restrictions.

The decision indicated that the world's second-largest economy is finally
shifting towards living with Covid after years of grinding curbs stifled
growth.

"We welcome very much the decisive actions taken by the Chinese
authorities... to recalibrate the Covid policies so as to create a better
impetus for the revival of growth in China," Kristalina Georgieva said at a
press briefing with the heads of other major economic institutions.

The effort to boost vaccination rates and anti-viral treatments "is very good
for the Chinese people, but also important for Asia and the rest of the
world", Georgieva added.

"China's performance matters (not just) to China -- it matters to the world
economy as well."

- 'Support global recovery' -

The global economy has been rocked this year, with Russia's brutal invasion
of Ukraine adding to a stuttering post-pandemic recovery and a cost of living
crisis in many countries.

The retreat from zero-Covid "will help remove one set of uncertainties" in a
world reeling from the impacts of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and
climate change, said WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at the same
briefing.

Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development, Mathias Cormann, said the "adjustments will support the strength
of the recovery both in China and globally".

Beijing's step back from zero-Covid has so far helped to prop up global stock
markets fearful of a looming recession in the United States, but analysts
have warned that China's route to a full reopening remains bumpy.

Public frustration with snap lockdowns and mass testing boiled over last
month as protesters took to the streets in cities around the country, with
some calling for greater political freedoms in China's most widespread
demonstrations since 1989.

Long criticised for disrupting business operations and global supply chains,
the zero-Covid policy has acted as a constraint on China's economy, with
analysts expecting Beijing to miss its stated annual growth target of 5.5
percent.

Friday's briefing came during something of a farewell tour for Li, who has
served as President Xi Jinping's second-in-command for two five-year terms
but is now set to retire.

The 67-year-old was not included in the new line-up for the ruling Communist
Party's Politburo Standing Committee, which Xi announced in October as he
sealed a norm-busting third term in power.

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