Time for local governments to put economy at top of their agendas

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang attends the Seventh "1+6" Roundtable in Huangshan of East China's Anhui province December 9, 2022. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

With the orderly implementation of the optimized COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control measures, the growth speed of the Chinese economy will continue to gather steam.

That is a core message Premier Li Keqiang conveyed to the world during the Seventh"1+6" Roundtable dialogue held in Huangshan, Anhui province, on Friday, during which he met with the leaders of six major world economy, finance and trade bodies.

As he said, in the face of the impact of COVID-19 and other factors that exceeded expectations this year, China promptly introduced a package of policy measures to stabilize the economy, which quickly reversed the economic downturn in the early second quarter, and the economy is now recovering and stabilizing. On the whole, China has maintained stable employment and prices, stabilized the macroeconomic market, and kept its economic performance within a proper range.

Li's reiterating of China's commitment to advancing opening-up at a high level and steadily expanding institutional opening-up, as well as the country's consistent hospitality to foreign investment and business should serve to instill confidence that the world's second-largest economy is gearing up to regain its pre-pandemic interaction with the world.

The positive responses from these international organizations' leaders to Li's remarks also reflect the world's expectation, if not need, for China to overcome the hindrances of the pandemic as quickly as possible to boost the sustainable and balanced recovery of the world economy by better fulfilling its roles as the world's largest manufacturing base, leading trader in goods and major investor.

According to a news briefing on the dialogue, the participants from the six organizations agreed that the world cannot develop without China, and China is an important engine for world economic growth. They remain optimistic about the prospects of China's economic development, and they welcome China's adjustment of its epidemic prevention and control policies, believing that it will strengthen the momentum of economic recovery in China and enable it to further open up, boosting the sustainable and balanced recovery of the world economy.

While some of the relatively less-developed inland areas are still holding a wait-and-see attitude to the effects of the policy changes, the coastal governments have taken the adjusted policy as a green light to act. Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Fujian and Guangdong provinces, the most vibrant coastal growth engines, all approved and supported overseas business trips as soon as the virus control policies were eased last week. That indicates their willingness to rebalance their focus between virus control and boosting and promoting business exchanges.

It is imperative that governments at various levels act with similar urgency to reboot the economy. For more than three years, the local governments have never ceased talking about their earnest intentions to improve the business environment under their watch and attract investment and talents. Now they need to make good on their words.