By Austin Maho PhD
In first quarter of 2020 the Chinese economy was in virtual lockdown as a result of COVID-19 which reach its peak by the end of March 2020.
Business and economic activities were major casualties of the coronavirus outbreak with industrial output contracting significantly in the first quarter of 2020.
Hubei province where the outbreak was first reported was in total lockdown and a similar faith befell many large cities in China as stringent measures were taken to contain the disease.
By the second quarter of 2020 there was a gradual reversal as the unprecedented measures began to pay off and the Chinese economy experienced a rebound.
While the global economy is on a tailspin, reporting negative growth as a result of COVID-19 the Chinese economy is set to record eppreciable growth this year.
China now seems, on the face of it, to be the first economy to fully recover from COVID-19.
J.P. Morgan recently boosted its 2020 China growth forecast to 2.5% from 1.3% in April. Economists at the World Bank and elsewhere have also upgraded their forecasts for China, the only major economy expected to grow this year. The level of total activity in China is now higher than it was going into the crisis.
Across China, businesses are opening up and social activities are picking up. Children are preparing to return to classrooms.
The remarkable bounce back of economic activities in China while far from China’s heady expansions of double digits in past years, should nonetheless help the world’s No. 2 economy move faster in catching up with the U.S., which is projected to shrink by as much as 8.0% in 2020.
Furthermore the economic rebound of China no doubt projects Beijing’s belief that China’s state-led economic model, which helped the country navigate the 2008-09 financial crisis with minimal pain, is better than the U.S.’s market system, emboldening Chinese leaders at a time of rising geopolitical competition with the U.S.
The rebound of the Chinese economy has also enabled China to come to the aid of the rest of the global community still suffering from Covid-19.
As noted by Chinese president Xi Jinping recently at a ceremony to recognise role models in the fight against COVID-19 epidemic at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, in response to global public health “launched the most intensive and wide-ranging emergency humanitarian assistance since the founding of New China”,
He revealed that between March and September of 2020, China exported 151.5 billion masks, 1.4 billion protective suits, 230 million goggles and 209,000 ventilators to support the global fight against COVID-19.
China also made several donations to the World Health Organization (WHO) and dispatched Chinese medical expert teams to 32 countries.
According to President Xi, the achievement is the result of strong leadership, the unyielding will of the Chinese people, the strengths of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, among others.
Xi also used the occasion to state China’s commitment to its goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by working towards poverty alleviation and working to make up for the time lost and the damage incurred due to COVID-19.
He also vowed to continue to support the WHO, aid countries and regions vulnerable to the pandemic and champion economic globalization and multilateralism so that the world economy can gain early recovery.
The Chinese people according to Xi will continue to forge ahead on its “great journey in the new era” and would confront headlong every challenge that comes across its path.
The remarkable recovery of the Chinese economy from Covid-19 evidently demonstrates the unyielding will of the Chinese people and the strengths of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
Coming home, Nigeria has a lot to learn from the Chinese growth and recovery strategy.
Notably, President Mohammadu Buhari has alluded much to the Chinese strategy and why it is a suitable model for Nigeria.
At last week’s inauguration of the National Steering Committee for the Development of Nigeria Agenda 2050 and the Medium-Term National Development Plan 2021–2025, Buhari called on the Committe members to pay attention to the Chinese strategy.
“The Chinese experience is an example. It has resulted in lifting over 700 million people out of poverty over the last four decades”. He said.
He noted that China’s track record of positive economic growth, since 1992, was only halted in the first quarter of 2020, due to onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, which China has successfully overcomed and now on the path of growth.
According to Buhari, COVID-19 presents the world - and Nigeria - with a crisis as well as an opportunity.
The Chinese have confronted the challenge headlong and also seized the opportunity for economic growth and development.
The world and in particular has a lot to learn from the Chinese strategy.
Certainly as Buhari said, “the current global health and economic crises give us an opportunity to think afresh and chart an optimal path forward” , guided by the Chinese experience.