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China’s solid economy still intact, says NDRC official

Workers produce medical shoe coverings at a company in the Bishan district of Chongqing on Feb 23, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

China has the capability, confidence and determination to continuously promote steady, healthy and sustainable economic development despite disruptions from the COVID-19 outbreak, the nation’s top economic regulator said on Friday.

“Though the coronavirus outbreak has dealt a huge blow to economic activity, it will only have a temporary and limited economic effect,” said He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, on the sidelines of the ongoing two sessions. “The fundamentals of China’s sound economic growth remain unchanged and China has the ability to cope with the various risks and challenges due to the coronavirus outbreak.”

Though the coronavirus outbreak severely impacted economic activity, the nation is gradually returning to normalcy. In April, the country’s total added value of industrial enterprises above a designated size rose by 3.9 percent on a yearly basis, compared with the 1.1 percent decrease in March.

“The considerable progress is testimony to China’s remarkable economic resilience, and its ability to withstand the pressure and pain amid the coronavirus outbreak,” He said.

Responding to queries on China not setting an economic growth target for this year in the Government Work Report, the NDRC official said most of the indicators are not comparable with the previous year and hence it is difficult to predict the development pattern, largely due to the coronavirus impact.

“In fact, the quantitative economic indicators have been broken into related indicators in fiscal, monetary and other related policies,” He said.”As China’s economy is deeply integrated into the global economy, it is hard to predict the future development due to uncertainties from the globally spreading coronavirus pandemic.

“Under the current circumstances, not setting a specific growth target will allow us to be more focused on key tasks such as expanding domestic demand, ensuring ‘six priorities’ and stability in six areas for steady economic momentum as well as achieving the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.”

Tang Jianwei, chief researcher at the Financial Research Center of Bank of Communications, said China’s decision to not have a fixed GDP growth target has been made after full consideration of the changes to the internal and external environment.

“The negative economic growth in the first quarter and the coronavirus’ impact on the global economy will pose great uncertainties to economic development this year,” said Tang. “Setting a specific economic target, especially a high growth target, is likely to disrupt the established tasks of epidemic control and economic and social development.”

To cushion the coronavirus outbreak effect and maintain strong growth momentum, the NDRC said China will speed up new infrastructure construction such as 5G networks, and focus on addressing weak links in fields such as public health, medical emergency supplies and new urbanization.

Hungchih Liu, senior vice-president for Asia-Pacific of US architecture and infrastructure consulting company AECOM, said increased investment in new infrastructure will be an important driver of China’s economic development, and the company looks forward to seeing more discussions on the topic during the two sessions meetings.

“We hope that the specific policies and allocation of funds for new infrastructure construction would be implemented, along with concrete measures to mobilize social resources and technological development of enterprises,” said Liu.”Under the current large-scale market impact, we see the uniqueness and advantages of the Chinese system. We think China’s economy will be in a long process of growth and optimization. We will increase investment in the Chinese market in the future.”

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