Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, China has put people’s lives front and center by preventing case imports and domestic rebounds under the dynamic zero policy. In battling different COVID-19 variants, omicron included, China’s approach has proved a success.
Dynamic zero requires fast and targeted measures. It is not to pursue zero-COVID infections, but rather to detect and contain the virus as quickly as possible to minimize at the smallest cost the pandemic’s impact on the lives of 1.4 billion Chinese people and on economic and social development. China’s dynamic zero-COVID policy prizes three factors — people, composure and solidarity.
First, every life matters. The Chinese government is people-oriented and protects the most fundamental human right — the right to life. China has a big population and a large elderly group, and the regional distribution of its medical resources is uneven. Though omicron is less lethal compared with previous strains, it still has a much higher fatality rate than influenza.
The latest research shows that, if China had rashly dropped the dynamic zero strategy, over 1.5 million people would have died from the virus. To be sure, the economic index cannot be overlooked in weighing the gains and costs of anti-COVID approaches, but people’s lives must come first. Protecting human rights will be just empty talk if people’s lives are lost.
Thanks to the dynamic zero policy, China has emerged stronger from the most serious epidemic situation since the outbreak in Wuhan. Shenzhen has been back on track after seven days of restrictive measures, and Shanghai has brought the epidemic under control and cut off community transmission chains. These results testify that dynamic zero is an effective policy that suits China and can stand the test of history.
By contrast, the US, despite its most advanced healthcare technology, has become “the biggest failure in fighting the epidemic”, with its COVID-19 fatalities exceeding a tragic milestone of 1 million. The appalling number mirrors the American political polarization, the rich and poor chasm, and its contempt for human rights. The lives, health, and happiness of American people at the bottom of the social ladder have fallen victims to power and capital games.
Second, composure is ever more valuable under stress. China has been fine-tuning its anti-pandemic measures to diminish their impact on the economy. In the past two years, China has taken the lead in curbing the virus, resuming production and securing positive growth, making it an engine of global recovery and a relief valve of global inflation.
In 2020, China was the only major economy to register positive economic development; in 2021, China’s total economic output reached 110 trillion yuan ($16.32 trillion); in the first quarter of 2022, its GDP grew by 4.8 percent year-on-year. Admittedly, some of China’s economic indicators went down in April because of omicron, but it is only an “interlude” in the long-term sustainability of China’s economy.
International organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank all believe that China has bright economic prospects given the government’s sufficient policy space to boost its economy.
For the US, however, its supply-chain crisis looms larger resulting from the botched COVID-19 response at home, and its inflation soared to a 40-year high of 8.5 percent in March this year. During the Ukraine crisis, the US weaponized economic and financial tools to impose extreme sanctions against Russia. Global food and energy prices have thus skyrocketed, further dragging down the world economy and causing heavy losses to many innocent emerging markets.
Third, upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all. China has been fighting the global pandemic through solidarity. China’s dynamic zero policy has not only saved lives and ensured our economic development, but injected more stability into the uncertain world, showing China’s strong sense of responsibility to the Chinese people and people all over the world.
As the first country that pledged to make the COVID-19 vaccine a global public good, China has offered a large number of vaccine doses and medical supplies to the global family and shared its experience in virus containment with more than 180 countries and international organizations.
Our anti-pandemic policy and results are supported by the Chinese people and most members of the international community.
Conversely, the US keeps politicizing the pandemic. For instance, it called for a presumption-of-guilt probe into virus origins in China, tried to bring Taiwan into the World Health Assembly as a sovereign state, pursued vaccine nationalism and health hegemony globally, but shunned the topics about its own early COVID-19 cases and biological labs. Its self-centered tricks have seriously hindered global health cooperation.
Still, some people are smearing China’s COVID-19 policy by saying that the dynamic zero approach is not sustainable and puts China at risk of being isolated. However, on the question of who does a better job in tackling the COVID-19 crisis, facts speak for themselves, and lies could deceive no one.
“For a boat to sail upstream, it has to forge ahead or be driven backward.” Omicron is still spreading around the world like wildfire, and how it may evolve is unknown. At this critical moment, “lying flat” is unwise and “lying flat to win” is impossible.
The experience over the past two years has proved that China has the foundation, conditions, and ability to achieve dynamic zero, and we have confidence to win the uphill battle and make greater contributions to global victory over the pandemic.
We hope the US could take seriously its epidemic situation, adopt a rational view toward China’s COVID-19 policy, and undertake its due responsibility with actions. After all, playing politics does little to help arrest a runaway virus.
The author is commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.