Opinion: Why China is committed to dynamic zero-COVID strategy

After more than two years, COVID still refuses to go away. Now faced with a wave of omicron in China, the Chinese Government puts the people’s lives first and sticks to its dynamic zero-Covid strategy. This strategy is not intended to achieve zero infection but to rapidly detect infection and break the chain of community transmission. The goal is to bring the spread of infection under control in the shortest time with the lowest social and economic cost.

Among China’s population of over 1.4 billion, more than 200 million are over 60 years old and 100 million over 70 years old. According to some experts, if China drops its dynamic zero-COVID policy, the spread of the virus will be out of control, and a great number of people will be infected in a short time. Facing numerous acute cases, hospitals will be overwhelmed. The elderly, children, pregnant women and other vulnerable groups will bear the brunt. In that scenario, there could be hundreds of millions of infections and millions of death. We must not let this happen. 

So the importance of sticking to the current prevention and control measures is apparent. And they have proved to be effective. New estimates from the World Health Organization show that the excess mortality with the COVID-19 pandemic between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2021 was approximately 14.9 million. China’s infection rate and death rate remain the lowest in the world. According to an analysis published by The Lancet in March, while the excess mortality rate was estimated to be 120 deaths per 100,000 population globally, it was only 0.6 for China. 

Meanwhile, the dynamic zero-Covid policy has also underpinned the sound momentum in China’s economic and social development. The strong resilience, huge potential and the fundamentals that sustain China’s long-term economic growth remain unchanged. In the first quarter of this year, China’s GDP grew by 4.8 percent year-on-year, ranking in the front among the major economies of the world and remaining a primary driver for global growth. From January to April, the total volume of import and export grew by 11.2 percent and paid-in foreign investment by 20.5 percent year-on-year, which served as a clear indication that China continued to open wider to the world. International institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank all expressed the view that China has ample policy space to boost the economy, and the future holds out still greater prospects.

Some specific prevention and control measures did affect people’s livelihood and have some short-term impact on social and economic activities. So we have been constantly fine-tuning our response measures to keep up with the evolving situation. However, only when the pandemic is brought under control completely, can life and work be back to normal. By adopting the dynamic zero-COVID policy to avoid a catastrophic situation, we will also effectively prevent a spillover into other countries and protect the safety of the global industrial and supply chain. 

Currently, COVID-19 is still a serious global pandemic, and there is considerable uncertainty about its future evolution. More hard efforts are needed to defeat the pandemic. All countries should support each other, better coordinate response measures and improve global public health governance. In this diversified world, where countries differ greatly, there is no one-size-fits-all model for pandemic control policies. The best policy is always the one that fits a country’s specific conditions. The Chinese government will stick to its dynamic zero-COVID strategy, and I have full confidence that China will win the battle against the pandemic, making greater contribution to the global efforts for a safer world.