China’s COVID-19 Policy Readjustment Boosts Confidence for Global Development

Recently, the Chinese government has readjusted its COVID-19 policy. From January 8, 2023, China has started to manage COVID-19 with measures against Class-B instead of the more serious Class-A infectious diseases, and implement new rules on cross-border travel. According to the new rules, inbound travelers are no longer required to do nucleic acid tests upon arrival in China, and those who are tested positive after entering China shall not be subject to centralized quarantine.

Many Tanzanian friends are wondering why China chose to readjust its COVID-19 policy at this moment? How is the COVID-19 situation like in China? What impacts will this policy adjustment have on Tanzania and other countries? I would like to share with you my thoughts on these questions.

Over the past three years since COVID-19 broke out in 2019, the Chinese government has put the people and their lives above all else, and has withstood five global COVID-19 waves. We have avoided a large-scale spread of the initial virus strain and the Delta variant of COVID-19 which are more pathogenic, thus minimizing the number of severe cases and mortality, and winning precious time for the research, development and application of vaccines and therapeutics as well as getting medical supplies ready. China has created a miracle in the history of mankind fighting diseases.

Compared with developed countries such as the US and the UK, China still lags behind in per capita availability of medical resources and development of medical technologies, but globally speaking, China’s COVID-19 infection rate and mortality rate are at the lowest level. Over the past three years, the total number of infected cases in China’s mainland has been less than 400,000, and the mortality caused by COVID-19 is around 5,235. When the global Human Development Index keeps dropping for two consecutive years, the ranking of China’s Human Development Index has advanced by six. It is because we put people and their lives above all else that China’s average life expectancy has increased from 77.3 years in 2019 to 78.2 years in 2021.

Practice has fully proven that China’s COVID-19 policies  have protected the safety and health of the people to the maximum extent possible, and minimized the impact of the pandemic on economic and social development to the greatest extent, and that they are correct, science-based and effective. China’s COVID-19 policies have been largely welcomed by its people and can stand the test of history.

While strictly enforcing effective COVID-19 policies, China keeps making policy readjustment based on its knowledge of the virus, immunity level of its people, and ability of its health system in coping with the pandemic, and by drawing the experience of other countries in COVID-19 response.

Currently, Omicron has become a global dominant virus strain. Despite the large number of infections, there has been a marked decline of pathogenicity in Omicron. At the same time, a large number of clinical studies have shown that COVID-19 vaccines manufactured in China can well guard against severe cases and death caused by Omicron. The full vaccination coverage in China has exceeded 90%, and the full-course vaccination coverage of those over 60 years old has exceeded 85%. The health awareness of Chinese citizens has also improved significantly. Based on a comprehensive assessment of the COVID-19 situation, China made readjustment of its COVID-19 policies, which is in line with the trend of global pandemic policies and the appeal of the Chinese people.

It should be noted that our policy readjustment is by no means a “lying flat” approach. Instead, it represents a shift of focus from preventing infections to preventing severe cases. The purpose of this shift is to protect the safety and health of the people to the maximum, while at the same time minimizing the impact of COVID-19 response on China’s economic and social development. This policy readjustment is science-based, timely and necessary.

The “gear shift” in China’s COVID-19 response will inevitably lead to a period of adaptation. All countries have gone through a similar process in their COVID policy readjustments. China has made full preparations in guaranteeing medical supplies, increasing medical resources, establishing a category-based treatment system, and protecting priority groups. We have the confidence and ability to go through the gear-shifting period with the minimum cost and facilitate returning to normalcy of our economic and social activities.

At present, China’s COVID-19 situation is under control. Major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have gone through the peak of infections. There is no such phenomena as overwhelming strain on medical resources, large numbers of death resulted from severe cases, freeze of human mobility, and commercial depression. All of them are fabrications by some Western media. Various localities in China are accelerating their paces of resuming economic activities and returning to normal life, and social vitality is being recovered. It is expected that China will soon return to the state prior to the pandemic.

China has not only protected the lives and health of its own citizens, but made great contributions to the global fight against COVID-19. China is the first country which committed itself to making its COVID-19 vaccines an international public good. To date, China has provided over 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to other countries. China has also made cash donations to the World Health Organization (WTO).

China-Tanzania anti-COVID cooperation can be called a good example of China’s international cooperation in fighting the pandemic. Over the past three years, China and Tanzania have stood together through difficult periods. China has provided 5.61 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and a large quantity of anti-pandemic medical supplies to Tanzania. At present, 32 Chinese doctors are working closely with their Tanzanian colleagues in various hospitals in this country to safeguard people’s health and lives, during which profound friendships have been forged. Apart from readjusting its COVID-19 policies, China has also refined its policy on cross-border travel, which has been warmly welcomed by various countries including Tanzania. Relevant measures are  helpful to resume people-to-people and business exchanges, to boost confidence of investors, and to promote world economic recovery. They have created fresh favorable conditions for global economic development. Many international institutions have raised their forecast of China’s economic growth in 2023, predicting a growth rate of over 5%, much higher than the growth rate of the world and of other major economies.

China is currently thoroughly implementing the spirit of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and fully advancing rejuvenation of the Chinese nation through Chinese modernization. China adopts a win-win opening up strategy, and will provide new opportunities to the world through its new development. Under the leadership of President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the Tanzanian government is fully implementing CCM’s Election Manifesto 2020-2025 to promote post-COVID economic recovery so as to build a prosperous Tanzania.

With readjustment of China’s COVID-19 policies, the personnel exchanges, trade and economic cooperation between China and Tanzania are resuming in a comprehensive manner. Air Tanzania’s direct flights between Dar es Salaam and Guangzhou have been operating smoothly since resumption in July 2022. The number of the said direct flights will soon increase from once a week to twice a week. As one of the most popular tourist destinations, Tanzania will see more Chinese tourists.

China’s huge middle-income group and strong consumption capacity will offer unlimited business opportunities for Tanzania in exporting its featured products. Tanzania will receive more Chinese investors as well. I am confident that China’s COVID-19 policy readjustment will give new impetus and create more opportunities for Tanzania’s development and China-Tanzania cooperation.

(The writer is Chargé d’Affaires ad Interim of the Chinese Embassy in Tanzania.)

 

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