Chinese people embrace normal life amid regular COVID-19 control, prevention

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After staying at home for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wang Jian was able to appreciate holding a bottle of iced beer outdoors and chilling with friends at the 2020 Qingdao Beer Festival — Asia’s Oktoberfest.

He was joined by more than 1.21 million visitors to the 17-day gala, over half of them from outside the coastal city of Qingdao in east China’s Shandong Province.

“It was finally time to relax — a bit — after stringent social distancing measures. It seems that we could finally be carefree and say goodbye to staying at home,” Wang said.

During the festival, held last month, beer buffs were able to sample more than 1,500 beers available onsite and watch fireworks and various shows. Traffic at nearby markets, hotels, and restaurants returned to 92 percent of pre-coronavirus levels.

In Beijing, 520,000 more primary school students went back to school on Monday, marking the return of all students under the 12th grade. Late last week, international flights to the Chinese capital began to resume, carrying passengers from eight countries.

Across the country, many bars and restaurants are again teeming with crowds. Events hosting thousands of people are being resumed.

The return to a normal social life underpins the country’s economic recovery.

Addressing a meeting held on Tuesday in Beijing to commend role models in the fight against the epidemic, Chinese President Xi Jinping said China has become the first major economy to return to growth since the COVID-19 pandemic and has taken the lead globally in both COVID-19 control and economic recovery.

Official statistics show China’s retail sales in July were just 1.1 percent lower than the same month in 2019.

Gita Gopinath, chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, tweeted a graph last week showing quarter-on-quarter, non-annualized Q2 GDP growths on a comparable scale. Of all major economies included in the graph, only China showed positive growth.

While the pandemic has dealt a blow to businesses, China has been pushing for further economic opening up. At the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services, which concluded on Wednesday in Beijing, the country vowed to continue easing market access in its services sector by further shortening its negative list for foreign investment.

A growing list of Western financial giants, particularly American ones, are also expanding their presence in China this year.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have acquired majority shares in their Chinese securities joint ventures. Citi has received a domestic fund custody license. BlackRock has become the first global asset manager to win regulatory approval to establish a mutual fund unit.

Despite the restoration of business and social activities, China has kept its guard up and implemented what it terms “regular COVID-19 prevention and control measures,” mandating temperature checks in public venues and mask-wearing on public transport and other indoor spaces.

In recent months, smaller-scale clusters of cases have been discovered at different times in Beijing, Xinjiang, and Dalian respectively. Efforts to tackle a resurgence have proven effective, which include quarantines, disinfection, contact tracing, targeted lockdowns, and citywide mass testing campaigns.

By the end of Wednesday, the Chinese mainland had reported zero new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 25 consecutive days, and 94.37 percent of all cases had been cured, far above the global average. 

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