Amid coronavirus outbreak, China's economy contracts, job losses mount

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Apr 22, 2020, 08.42 PM(IST)

File photo: Chinese President Xi Jinping Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The COVID-19 outbreak has dealt a big blow to the Chinese economy. For the first time, China has seen its first decline on record

China realises its on the backfoot due to the coronavirus pandemic, so, it's trying to contain the damage both at home and abroad.

Also Read: After Wuhan, fears of second coronavirus wave in China's northeast

The COVID-19 outbreak has dealt a big blow to the Chinese economy. For the first time, China has seen its first decline on record. The Chinese economy has contracted by 6.8 per cent. Itis the worst downturn since the 1960s.

The collapse had a direct impact on employment. According to a report in Bloomberg, eight million people in China lost their jobs in February alone. It is an estimate, however, the reality could be much different and worse. Two days ago, the Communist Party of China revealed its post coronavirus strategy.

The politburo is a group of 24 party members. It oversees the entire party. The Chinese state media reported about a meeting of the politburo. It reveals the concept of "six ensures" or "six guarantees". It is the list of policy priorities for China. Right at the top is unemployment. Job loss is a big worry for China.

The other priorities are resuming trade, the supply chain, food and energy security, and functioning of the grassroots. Why are we talking about this list? because it is an instruction to the party members and the bureaucracy. These will be the domestic priorities of China for the near future. At home in China, its all about job creation.

How does China plan to deal with the outside world? Beijing is using its own brand of aggressive and combative diplomacy. Whenever China has been questioned, it has responded with a denial.

Now the denials are not working. So, China is now resorting to bluster, even misinformation to respond. 

These days, Beijing is taking the questions over reparations head-on, something not seen before. The spokespersons from the Chinese foreign ministry are flat out denying reparations claims.

China's way to get ahead of the narrative. The demand to hold China accountable is growing. All Beijing can do is to reject it. On Monday, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson appeared before the media to issue one more denial but, it didn't go as per plan.

Beijing's strategy is to deflect the blame by attacking America which is a poor strategy. The statement from the Chinese foreign ministry is laced with misinformation, flawed arguments and fake claims.

WION ran a fact-check.

Claim number-1: The H1N1 pandemic in 2009 began in America. That's wrong. According to a piece in the Lancet - the H1N1 virus emerged in Mexico. Next, China says the AIDS were discovered in America - another lie.

The earliest known case of HIV was detected back in 1959 from a man in Congo. Such statements only show China's desperation. During that briefing, Geng Shuang even raised the 2008 financial crisis. Repeating himself: no one asked America for accountability. It's a ridiculous argument to make.

The 2008 financial crisis was not a pandemic unlike China, America didn't try to cover it up. It didn't try to hide the patients nor, did it try to silence the whistleblowers. 

In 2003, the world suffered due to the SARS outbreak. China tried to cover that up too. Seventeen years later, Beijing has done it again. SARS affected more than 20 countries.

The coronavirus pandemic has reached 185 countries and regions. All due to the criminal negligence of China and that's the reason why Beijing must be held accountable.