China’s new Premier Li Qiang on Monday strongly defended the much-hated ‘zero Covid’ strategy followed by the country for over three years which hurt its economic growth also led to public protests, saying the policy was completely right and delivered highly effective outcomes.
Addressing his first press conference, Li Qiang said it took less than two months for China, a highly populous country, to achieve a smooth transition in COVID-19 response and resume normal economic and social order, which is indeed remarkable.
“For over three years, under the leadership of the Communist Party, the Chinese people have united in fighting COVID-19, and now we have achieved a major and decisive victory against the disease,” Li said and avoided using the term zero Covid.
“China is a country with a large population and unbalanced development. It took less than two months for it to achieve a smooth transition in its response to the disease and to restore normal socioeconomic order. It is indeed a remarkable achievement,” Li said.
He said China’s COVID-19 strategy is completely right and its response is highly effective.
Under the ‘zero Covid’ policy, China completely insulated itself from the world for over three years and finally lifted it early this year resuming normal international travel links.
Besides causing rare public protests, including calls for Chinese President Xi Jinping to quit, the policy was largely attributed to the slowdown of the world’s second-largest economy to three per cent, the slowest in decades.
The sudden lifting of restrictions in December last also caused a massive upsurge of Omicron variant infections leading to a heavy death count, especially among the unvaccinated elderly population, but the government has not officially acknowledged it.
Noting that there are still risks of virus transmission, Li said China will continue to follow the evolving epidemic situation and build up its capacity for early warning and forecast.
Efforts will also be made to strengthen medical and health service systems at all levels, speed up the development of new vaccines and medicines, and keep communication and cooperation with the international community, Li added.
The coronavirus which first emerged in Wuhan has turned into a global pandemic causing massive deaths and infections in all parts of the world.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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