Xi leads China's economic reopening on sustainable track

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Chinese President Xi Jinping learns about work and production resumption during a research tour in a stainless steel manufacturer in Taiyuan, capital city of north China's Shanxi Province, May 12, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

A pioneer in COVID-19 response, China is gradually recovering from the epidemic's shock and moving cautiously on its track of economic reopening as epidemic prevention and control has become regular practices.

With the latest economic indicators pointing to an across-the-board improvement in the macroeconomy, the world's second-largest economy is looking beyond a balance between restarting the economy and containing the virus.

In his inspection to north China's Shanxi Province this week, Chinese President Xi Jinping, while stressing no relaxation in epidemic prevention and control, underscored the incorporation of environment protection, energy revolution, green development and economic transformation.

Leading the nation toward building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, has charted the course toward high-quality transformation and more sustainable development.

People's health first

During his Shanxi inspection, Xi noted that epidemic prevention and control work has now entered a new stage, with China having achieved major strategic outcomes but also facing pressure from the need to guard against both imported infections and domestic rebounds.

"Enterprises must not relax and should keep on strictly implementing epidemic prevention and control measures to push forward work resumption while ensuring the safety and health of their workers," he said.

At a leadership meeting on regular epidemic prevention and control Thursday, Xi also underscored intensifying containment measures in key regions and places to forestall resurgence of infections.

Xi, who always puts people's health first in pushing forward the resumption of work and production, urged targeted prevention and control measures in Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces where cluster infections were reported, and improved community containment efforts in the once hard-hit Hubei Province and the city of Wuhan.

"We must never allow our hard-earned previous achievements on epidemic control to be made in vain," Xi said at the meeting.

Turning challenges into opportunity

Like other economies in the world, the COVID-19 outbreak has dealt a heavy blow on China's domestic economy and social activities. In the first quarter, China's gross domestic product contracted 6.8 percent year on year.

However, the country chose to face up to the inevitable shock and to view its development in a comprehensive, dialectical and long-term perspective.

"Crises and opportunities always exist side by side. Once overcome, a crisis is an opportunity," Xi said when speaking with local officials of Zhejiang Province, China's eastern economic powerhouse, in April.

Though the increasingly fast spread of COVID-19 abroad has disrupted international economic and trade activities and brought new challenges to China's economic development, it has also provided fresh opportunities for expediting the country's development in science and technology and advancing industrial upgrading, he said.

Challenges and opportunities did come hand in hand. During the epidemic, the country's already booming digital economy embraced a new rise as many people had to stay home and expand their online activities, prompting the use of new technologies like 5G and cloud computing.

To grab the opportunity, massive investment plans have been made for "new infrastructure" projects such as information networks and data centers, which are expected to support future industrial upgrading and nurture new growth drivers.

Reflecting the trend, the service production index for information transmission, software and information technology services rose 5.2 percent year on year in April, beating a 4.5-percent drop for the overall service sector, official data showed.

Chinese President Xi Jinping checks the ecological protection work of the Fenhe River in Taiyuan, capital city of north China's Shanxi Province, May 12, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

A green path

Under Xi's leadership, China has resisted the old way of developing the economy at the cost of the environment and is looking to leave a green legacy for its future generations, despite the unprecedented economic shock brought by the epidemic.

"Ecological conservation and environmental protection are contemporary causes that will benefit many generations to come," said Xi, regarding lucid waters and lush mountains as invaluable assets.

In every destination he visited in the past two months, Xi went to natural sites to inspect the local environment, stressing the need for green development and advocating ecological civilization.

In Shanxi this week, he went to inspect the protection work of the Fenhe River in Taiyuan, the provincial capital, and expressed satisfaction with the tremendous changes made to the environment along the once-polluted river.

Vigorously promoting a greener economy, Shanxi, the coal-rich province, cut 27.45 million tonnes of coal production capacity and saw a GDP growth higher than the country's average level in 2019.

Behind China's firm path of green development is the top leadership's pursuit of achieving a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the foresight of maintaining a strategic focus on improving the ecological environment in the long run.

More should be done to accelerate institutional innovation and strengthen the implementation of institutions to help form a green way of production and living, Xi has stressed.

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