China on Friday defended its strict “zero-COVID” policy after the US ambassador said it was causing serious damage to the global economy and foreign trade sentiment.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the Chinese economy was recovering from the effects of the pandemic and “the facts prove” that the policy mandating lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing is “appropriate for China’s national circumstances and the history of Has met the test.”
“We are confident that (we can) control the pandemic, stabilize the economy and achieve the goal of safe economic growth,” Wang told a daily briefing.
China has sought to contain the COVID-19 outbreak with stringent restrictions, while most other countries are easing their anti-coronavirus measures to live with the disease.
Ambassador Nicholas Burns said on Thursday that the zero-COVID policy has had “a major impact” on business sentiment, especially as a two-month lockdown in China’s largest city and major financial center Shanghai is hurting. Is.
Most of Shanghai’s 25 million people were confined to their homes or neighborhoods, and hundreds of thousands are still under restrictions. Lockdown continues in Beijing and other cities as well.
Critics say the policy is disrupting global supply chains and hurting jobs and consumption in China. The World Health Organization of the United Nations has called it unstable. China called the comment irresponsible.
Burns said in a virtual address to the Brookings Institution think tank that there were 40,000 US citizens in the Shanghai area before the pandemic, but “many and many more people have gone home.” He said diplomats from Europe, Japan and other countries have reported similar declines.
“We are quite aware of the need, I think the Chinese government is quite aware of the need to try to get back to a state of normalcy,” Burns said.
He added that some US companies are leaving China outright because of its continued importance, “but the results I’ve read, and the conversations I’ve had with a lot of business leaders here, make me think it’s important to invest in the future.” I’m hesitant in my obligations until they can see the end of it.”
The US and China recorded $650 billion in trade last year, and there are about 1,100 US companies operating in China.
Chinese sanctions have ended all visits by US government officials and business leaders, while the number of US students has fallen sharply as China suspended the issuance of student visas.
“It’s hard to convince any of my colleagues in Washington to come here if I tell them that when they do, they’ll have to self-isolate for 14 days,” Burns said. “And I understand their reluctance to do so.”
Burns said the Chinese government is indicating that the zero-COVID policy will likely be extended into at least the early months of 2023.
Burns, who has declared that relations between Washington and Beijing are at their lowest point since former President Richard Nixon’s visit in 1972, said China’s aggressive foreign policy has intensified competition between the countries. But he said he still had many areas in which he could engage constructively, including climate change, anti-drug measures and agricultural trade.
Burns said much of his work has focused on access to the Chinese public, a task made more difficult by COVID-19 restrictions and the government’s strict censorship.
He said a recent speech on China by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that China’s embassy posted on social media platforms such as Twitter was removed within about two and a half hours, but was viewed in large numbers, They said.
Burns said a second attempt to post it three days later resulted in it being censored within 20 minutes.
“So that’s the game they play,” he said.