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Wealth Over Health: Chinese President Xi Warns Officials That ‘Overly Restrictive’ Efforts to Stop Virus Are Hurting the Economy

This week, top Chinese officials were warned by President Xi Jinping that efforts to stop the spreading of the deadly coronavirus are overly restrictive and are threatening the country’s economy.

According to Reuters, Xi told officials during a Feb. 3 Politburo Standing Committee that some of the actions they are taking to contain the virus are hurting the economy, and urged them to stop “restrictive measures.”  

What are these “restrictive measures”? In Wuhan, where the virus first started, local authorities have shut down factories and schools, sealed off roads and railways, locked down residential compounds, and banned public events. Xi said some of those efforts were not practical and only created fear among the public, Reuters reported.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that despite the coronavirus outbreak, “party committees and governments of all levels were urged to achieve the targets of economic and social development this year.”

Currently China has its slowest growth in three decades as it tries to stamp out an epidemic that has infected more than 40,000 and killed more than 1,000 people.

Efforts to shore up the Chinese economy include telling business not to “overreact” and stop restricting everyday movements. Instead, they are urging factories and companies to resume work, especially in important industries such as pharmaceuticals and food. In addition, China’s policymakers are planning to reduce taxes on industries hit hardest by the epidemic, as well as cut interest rates and engage in more fiscal spending to compensate for the country’s devastating first-quarter growth.

“In the context of the epidemic and the downward pressure on the economy, it is more important to maintain economic growth,” said Pan Gongsheng, vice-governor of China’s central bank, reported Reuters.

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Posted by Paige Grimes

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