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Ambassador Zhang Ming Speaks to Bloomberg TV: coronavirus outbreak's impact on economy is limited and manageable

On 6 February 2020, Ambassador Zhang Ming, Head of the Chinese Mission to the EU, gave an exclusive interview to Bloomberg TV. He gave a comprehensive account of what China has done to fight the novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) and answered questions about the outbreak’s impact on Chinese and world economy.

Ambassador Zhang said that the Chinese government puts people’s life, health and safety at the top. President Xi Jinping is the chief commander in the battle against the NCP and all Chinese people have united as one. We have channeled a large amount of medical resources to Hubei to treat patients and save lives. We have taken the most thorough and rigorous prevention and control measures to effectively contain the spread of the virus to other parts of China and other countries. China has actively engaged in international exchanges and cooperation. We notified the WHO and other countries of the outbreak in the first place and shared the genome sequence of the virus. The WHO and the international community, including the EU, commend China for its open, transparent and responsible approach. In the past few days, the number of cured cases has kept growing while that of suspected cases has started to decline. It suggests that the measures are taking effect.

Regarding the outbreak’s potential impact on the Chinese economy, Ambassador Zhang pointed out that the outbreak might have some impact, but it would be limited, short-term and manageable. It would not change the positive prospects of the Chinese economy in the long term, the huge market demand offered by the 1.4 billion Chinese people, nor China’s commitment to reform and opening-up. There is no need for global investors to worry too much. The Chinese government has sufficient policies to boost the economy. The People’s Bank of China has recently injected RMB 1.7 trillion into the market. The World Bank believes this will play a pivotal role in stabilizing markets, and the International Monetary Fund has expressed support for the fiscal, monetary and financial measures taken by the Chinese government in response to the outbreak. China’s efforts have effectively reduced the risks that the outbreak may pose to the world economy.

When asked about how to look at the unilateral travel ban imposed by some countries, Ambassador Zhang noted that the WHO has repeatedly said it does not recommend travel or trade limitations on China, because this would not help control the outbreak, and would rather exacerbate panic and thus take on the world economy and free trade. In the fight against the outbreak, the only thing to fear is fear itself, not the virus. We hope that the countries concerned will assess the situation calmly, rationally and objectively, respect the WHO’s authoritative and professional recommendations, and avoid unnecessary overreaction.

As for China-EU cooperation on the outbreak response, Ambassador Zhang said that the two sides have maintained close communication since the beginning of the outbreak. President Xi Jinping had phone conversations respectively with the leaders of France and Germany. Premier Li Keqiang and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also spoke on the phone. The EU has facilitated the delivery of 12 tons of protective equipment to China, and the second batch is about to be shipped. Such close communication and collaboration are particularly valuable in difficult times. It not only sets a good example of major countries working together to safeguard regional and global public health security, but also well illustrates what the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and the EU is truly about.

Ambassador Zhang also answered questions about China-EU economic and trade cooperation and 5G network security.

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