Xinhua Headlines: Open world economy needed for global recovery amid COVID-19 pandemic

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BEIJING, Aug. 15 (Xinhua) -- For many foreigners living here in China's capital city, Sanyuanli Market is a unique cure for their homesickness.

With all kinds of imported food products, such as French cheese, Maghreb couscous, and vegetables popular with Western families, the market meets the needs of foreign residents searching for a taste of home.

The market's success has mainly been attributed to China's opening up in recent decades, during which the trade between China and the rest of the world has not only remarkably altered people's lifestyles but also tremendously boosted the global economy.


Before returning to her hometown of Toulouse, France two years ago, Estelle Garneau had lived in Beijing for five years.

Recalling her life in the country, Garneau said visiting Sanyuanli Market almost every week is part of her most delightful memories of her time in China.

"It's a market where you can find ingredients from all over the world," she said, adding that the market allowed her to taste the flavors of her country and discover more from other cuisines.

The market, located in one of Beijing's most international districts near the embassy area, opened in the early 1990s.

Yuan Meirong, 45, is one of the market's earliest business owners. Originally from northwestern China's Shaanxi Province, she has run a grocery store specializing in imported dairy products in the market for almost 20 years.

"Half of our customers are foreigners from a dozen countries and some of them have become our friends," said Yuan, adding that cheese imported from Europe is one of her best-selling products.

According to the Foreign Affairs Office of the People's Government of Beijing Municipality, by the end of 2018, the number of overseas institutions in Beijing had reached 37,000, with a total of 142,000 foreign residents.

Huge demands have enabled the market's prosperity, though the unexpected COVID-19 outbreak interrupted operations for many sellers.

This year has not been an easy one for Zhang Mei, for instance, a fishmonger who started her business in the market in 1998.

In June, several confirmed cases linked to imported seafood forced Zhang's stall to close for a week.

Compared to last year, the turnover of Zhang's business fell by over 50 percent during the first half of 2020.

However, since mid-July, business in Sanyuanli Market has started to regain momentum, bringing hope for Zhang.

"Thanks to everyone's efforts, the epidemic is under control, and we can get back to our businesses," she said.

"Many of our foreign customers have returned to Beijing after the borders reopened and our business has picked up, although summer is normally the off-season," she added.


This revival is the epitome of China's economic recovery from the adverse impacts of the pandemic, which has so far infected over 20 million people and claimed more than 750,000 lives worldwide.

The country's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 3.2 percent year on year in the second quarter (Q2) of 2020, according to China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

China's value-added industrial output, an important economic indicator, went up 4.4 percent year on year in Q2 as factories stepped up production amid COVID-19 control measures.

Investment in property development edged up 1.9 percent year on year in the first half of 2020, compared with a 7.7-percent decline during the January-March period, while China's service production index increased 2.3 percent year on year in June as economic activities continued to recover.

Martin Raiser, World Bank country director for China, said the country's economic rebound was better than expected in Q2, in light of the pandemic.

"It is indeed higher than what we had projected back in June when we released our Global Economic Prospects report, and we have upgraded our forecast accordingly," said Raiser.

Noting the pandemic previously impaired business confidence in China, Alicia Garcia Herero, chief economist for Asia at Paris-based investment bank NATIXIS, highlighted the resilience of the Chinese economy.

"China has shown great resilience over the coronavirus outbreak and is among the first major economies to recover," said Herero, who is also a senior research fellow at Bruegel, a Brussels-based think-tank.

Sylwester Szafarz, former consul general of Poland in Shanghai, said China's economic recovery has brought confidence to the recovery of the world economy amid both the pandemic and a tough global recession.

The country has become the first major economy to resume growth since the outbreak of its epidemic, Szafarz said, adding "this will play a positive role in the reconstruction of the world economy in the post-epidemic era."


Even though the pandemic has stoked an anti-globalization sentiment and fueled protectionism across the world, China has never wavered its resolution to build an open economy.

"The most important part of the Chinese economic policy today, in my view, is the commitment of the government to widening the door to the world, despite the difficulty arising from the coronavirus crisis," said Rudolf Minsch, chief economist at Swiss national business federation Economiesuisse.

China saw its foreign trade rise 5.1 percent year on year in June, with exports and imports up 4.3 percent and 6.2 percent respectively, according to official data.

In addition to helping itself achieve a swift economic recovery, China's commitment to an open economy has also injected fresh impetus into the struggling global economy.

During the January-June period, ASEAN remained China's largest trading partner, with trade up 5.6 percent year on year, accounting for 14.7 percent of China's total foreign trade.

Wellian Wiranto, an economist at OCBC Bank, said China's economic growth is likely to benefit Southeast Asian nations as the country commands the "lion's share" of regional exports.

"The uptick would rekindle hopes that China's economy can help to pull others along," Wiranto said.

However, the global economic landscape is still bleak. The U.S. economy contracted at an annual rate of 32.9 percent in the second quarter, the deepest decline since 1947. Latin America and the Caribbean region is expected to face a 9.1-percent drop in regional growth in 2020, while Africa's growth this year will drop from an initial estimate of 3.2 percent to between minus 2.8 percent and zero percent.

The call for an open global economy has never been so urgent at this critical moment when the world is plagued by the twin crises of economic recession and the pandemic.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the fifth annual meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank via video link in July, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized the spirit of openness and cooperation.

China always supports and adheres to multilateralism, and pursues development with the rest of the world in the spirit of openness and mutually-beneficial cooperation, Xi said.

As evident at Sanyuanli Market, people will benefit from mutually-beneficial cooperation and exchanges of goods, information and technology, Herero said.

In the view of Minsch, it is "absolutely crucial that China is opposing any tendency to reverse globalization."

"Open markets are key to the long-term growth of China and are so to the rest of the world," said the economist. Enditem

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