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Interview: China on "solid path of economic recovery" from pandemic shock: U.S. economist

(Xinhua)    09:09, October 25, 2020

"The most impressive aspect of the economy's performance is that the highest priority was given to containing the outbreak of COVID-19," says Stephen Roach.

NEW YORK, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese economy is staging impressive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic shock, bolstered by the country's effective control of the novel coronavirus, a renowned U.S. economist said.

"The third quarter GDP was encouraging," which does show that "China is on a solid path of economic recovery following the COVID-19 shock in the early months of this year," Stephen Roach, senior fellow at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, told Xinhua in an online video interview Tuesday.

"The encouraging pieces of it have to do with the contribution to economic growth made by Chinese consumers, who clearly were most adversely impacted by the lockdown early this year," said Roach, who was formerly chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and chief economist at Morgan Stanley, a New York-based investment bank.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 4.9 percent year on year in Q3, faster than the 3.2-percent growth seen in Q2, showed official data earlier this week.

Aerial photo taken on July 1, 2020 shows a newly-built bridge linking Nantong and Zhangjiagang over the Yangtze River in east China's Jiangsu Province. (Xinhua/Li Bo)

Also, in the latest World Economic Outlook report released earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund projected China's economy to grow by 1.9 percent in 2020, 0.9 percentage points above the IMF's June forecast, making it the only major economy that will see positive growth this year.

"The most impressive aspect of the economy's performance is that the highest priority was given to containing the outbreak of COVID-19," said Roach.

"China's approach to public health is strict, it's disciplined," which is "a model of what can be done to contain the impacts of a disease outbreak in a major economy," he said, adding that "it's a model that the rest of the world needs to take very seriously as an example of what is missing today and what they could do."

A shock like a pandemic does not just go away, instead, it takes very rigorous, focused and disciplined public health actions to curtail the spread and bring the disease under control, said the famed Yale scholar.

Aerial photo taken on Aug. 26, 2020 shows the courtyard of a homestay in Huicailiang Village of Zhangbei County, north China's Hebei Province. (Xinhua/Li He)

"The lesson from China is (that) they addressed the shock first of all and that was the principal focus of the government's efforts in the early months of 2020. And then by containing the shock, they were able to utilize policy tools, fiscal and monetary, to then stimulate the aggregate demand after the shock had been controlled," said Roach.

"That's an important lesson for other economies around the world," as "massive fiscal and monetary stimulus could be undermined if you don't have effective control over the disease," he noted.

The economist said he expects China to see "further progress in economic growth in the fourth quarter," and "it will be a positive number" for the year as a whole.

Meanwhile, he cautioned that challenges remain, especially given the complexity and uncertainty of the pandemic.

Further efforts in public health, health security and the social safety net, and continuing down the road of reforms, are among the aspects in which China could continue their endeavor so as to maintain the economic momentum and build up resilience, according to Roach. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Sheng Chuyi, Bianji)

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