President Xi Jinping pledged that China would meet its economic and social development goals while winning the battle against the deadly coronavirus.
“We have the ability and confidence not only to defeat the epidemic, but also to accomplish the set goals and tasks for economic and social development. I believe China will be more prosperous after overcoming this epidemic,” he told Indonesian leader Joko Widodo in a phone call, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Xi said authorities were at an important juncture in fighting the virus, which has killed over 1,000 people since emerging in December in Hubei province and fuelled fears of a broader slowdown for the world’s second-biggest economy. He had urged officials to work together to contain the virus at a rare meeting of top leaders earlier this month, saying the outcome would directly impact China’s social stability.
The call came as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told lawmakers that the US central bank was closely watching the fallout from the outbreak and singled it out among the risks threatening the American and world economies.
“In particular, we are closely monitoring the emergence of the coronavirus, which could lead to disruptions in China that spill over to the rest of the global economy,” Powell said.
The Chinese economy is now forecast to grow 5.8% in 2020 under the virus impact, according to the median result in a Bloomberg survey. That’s down from 5.9% last month.
“The unknown features of 2019-nCoV, such as uncertainties about the incubation period, false negative results in testing and undetected channels for contagion, suggest the turning point will be still days, if not weeks, away,” Citigroup Inc economists said.
including Yu Xiangrong wrote in a report to clients this week. Citigroup has lowered its growth forecast twice in the past two weeks.
Stringent and Thorough
Xi’s comments to Widodo, also known as Jokowi, echoed those made when he appeared Monday in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, wearing a mask and having his temperature taken. It was Xi’s first time interacting with the public since widespread anger surged following the death of a doctor who had tried to raise the alarm early on about the virus, before succumbing to it last Friday.
Even as countries around the world suspend air travel to the mainland, stop cruise ships from docking and quarantine people arriving from China, Xi said in the phone call that his nation would strengthen cooperation on prevention and control measures with others, including Indonesia.
“We hope that countries in the region will work hard to maintain bilateral exchanges and cooperation while making reasonable prevention and control efforts,” he said.