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Xi Jinping: Speech at a Meeting to Plan for Coordinated Efforts to Curb the COVID-19 Outbreak and Promote Economic and Social Development

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Author:Xi Jinping | Source:

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Speech at a Meeting to Plan for Coordinated Efforts to Curb the COVID-19
 
         Outbreak and Promote Economic and Social Development                    
                February 23, 2020                        

 

Comrades,

Today we are holding a meeting to plan the coordinated efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 and promote economic and social development. Top of our agenda are analyzing the epidemic situation and arranging the next steps to contain the outbreak and stimulate economic and social development. Now, I would like to discuss several issues.

       I. Recent Work on Epidemic Control

Since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19, the Party Central Committee has attached great importance to this issue and made swift arrangements for strengthening centralized, unified leadership over all aspects of epidemic control.

On January 7, I set requirements for disease prevention and control while chairing a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Central Committee Political Bureau.

On January 20, I issued instructions on disease prevention and control, asking Party committees and governments at all levels and the departments concerned to put first the health and safety of our people, and to take earnest and effective measures to resolutely contain the spread of the epidemic.

On the first day of the Chinese New Year (January 24), I chaired a meeting of the Political Bureau Standing Committee, at which we undertook further studies, further planning, and further mobilizations for disease prevention and control. We decided to establish a Central Committee leading group for responding to the epidemic and to dispatch to the worst-hit areas a central guiding team, and requested that the State Council, through its joint prevention and control mechanism, fully assume a coordinating role.

Thereafter, I chaired a further three meetings of the Political Bureau Standing Committee and a meeting of the Political Bureau, which were focused on studying the efforts to contain the epidemic and the resumption of business and production.

On February 10, I made an inspection tour in Beijing, giving guidance on the city’s disease control efforts, and was connected by video with those working on the frontlines in Wuhan and other parts of Hubei, during which I listened to the work reports of the central guiding team and Hubei epidemic control headquarters.

In addition, to set requirements for epidemic control work from different perspectives, I chaired meetings of the Central Rule of Law Commission, Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, Central Commission for Deepening Reform, and Central Foreign Affairs Commission. The Party Central Committee also issued the Notice on Strengthening Party Leadership and Providing a Firm Political Guarantee for Winning the Battle of Prevention and Control against COVID-19.

I have at all times been closely following epidemic control work, and on a daily basis, I am issuing oral instructions and making written comments on work reports. The Central Committee leading group for responding to the epidemic has acted promptly to study and develop strategies, the central guiding team has keenly advanced its work, the State Council, through its joint prevention and control mechanism, has reinforced overall planning and coordination, and Party committees and governments at all levels have been proactive in taking action. With everybody racing against time and fighting against the disease, we have been able to forge a powerful synergy for combating the epidemic.

       It is in a turbulent world that a hero shows his mettle. In this grave struggle, Party organizations at all levels and their members and officials have led from the front with indomitable efforts, playing their roles in our fight as bulwarks, vanguards and role models.

Our health personnel have been fighting day in, day out, without hesitation, to care for the sick and save lives, showing the noble spirit of kindness and benevolence that is intrinsic to medical workers. The service men and women of the People’s Liberation Army have acted immediately on their orders and been courageous in the formidable battles they have taken on, demonstrating the political character of the people’s armed forces, which is their loyalty to the Party and the people.

The many ordinary Chinese people are united as one and ready to assist anyone in need. People in Wuhan and the rest of Hubei, in particular, bearing in mind the bigger picture, have readily cooperated in the epidemic control efforts, showing a firm and unyielding will.

Our public security officers, disease control personnel, and community workers stand fast at their posts and keep guard around the clock; many journalists, despite the dangers and hardships, are camped on the frontlines; large numbers of volunteers are fully devoted to the fight and have made important contributions to disease control.

Public health, development and reform, industry and IT, commerce, foreign relations, transportation, agriculture and rural affairs, emergency management, finance, culture and tourism, science and technology, education, market regulation, social security and medical insurance, resources and the environment, state asset management, forestry and grassland, and many other government departments, as well as bodies of disciplinary inspection and supervision, organization, communications, the united front, and the judiciary, have all fulfilled their respective duties. People’s congresses, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference committees, and people’s organizations have actively assumed responsibilities, and each has adopted strong measures to support the fight against the disease.

All sectors of society on the mainland, fellow countrymen and women in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and overseas Chinese nationals have generously donated money and supplies and displayed deep solicitude for their countrymen and women.

Recently, we have been mainly working on the following tasks.

First, we have formulated timely epidemic control strategies and tactics.

To win a war, one must first have the right strategy and tactics. The Party Central Committee sized up developments carefully and undertook comprehensive studies and analysis. On this basis, we promptly set the general requirements of the whole country staying firmly confident and working as one, adopting science-based approaches in prevention and treatment, and putting into effect targeted policies, and defined as our general objective resolutely stopping the spread and winning the battle against the epidemic. We have listed, in accordance with law, COVID-19 as a Category B infectious disease, and to ensure its strict management, applied the Category A measures.

We have coordinated efforts across the country and made overall plans for the resources of all sectors to provide an important safeguard for prevention and control. As the focus of our efforts, we are working to control infectious sources and cut off the routes of transmission. We have strengthened unified leadership, unified command, and unified action, declaring against the epidemic an all-out people’s war.

In prevention and control, we have set the requirements of early detection, reporting, quarantine and treatment. We have required that patients, experts and resources be concentrated in exclusive facilities to administer treatment. We have set raising the hospital-admission and cure rates and bringing down the infection and mortality rates as significant tasks.

Our policy responses have been based on the characteristics and epidemic situation of each region. We have identified Wuhan and the rest of Hubei as the country’s main battleground and enhanced category-based guidance for other provinces around the country. By rigorously defending the line throughout the four stages of epidemic control, and physical and mental health), and by deepening our efforts, step by step and down through the levels, we have given shape to a strategic prevention and control landscape featuring full mobilization, holistic planning, and comprehensive measures.

Second, we have strengthened unified command over epidemic control in Wuhan and Hubei.

On January 22, the Party Central Committee decisively required Hubei Province to adopt full and strict control over its outflows of people. A tremendous amount of political courage was needed to make this decision. But when it comes time for action, you must act, as indecision only leads to trouble.

The Party Central Committee has made epidemic control in Wuhan and Hubei its foremost priority, and has set out clear requirements for curbing the spread both within these jurisdictions and beyond, emphasizing stricter, more targeted, and more effective measures to halt the epidemic’s spread.

The central guiding team has conscientiously implemented the decisions and plans of the Party Central Committee, and strengthened its guidance and supervision of prevention and control work in Hubei and Wuhan.

In order to assist Hubei and Wuhan, the efforts of the entire nation have been marshaled: we have dispatched over 330 medical teams of more than 41,600 medical personnel from 29 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities, the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, and the military; worked with extraordinary speed to get specialized hospitals like Huoshenshan and Leishenshan and modular hospitals for centralized treatment up and running; deployed every possible means to maximize the supply of hospital beds; made Wuhan and Hubei the priorities for medical supplies; and organized paired assistance between cities in Hubei and 19 designated provinces.

To address the serious problems in the early stage of prevention and control work in Hubei and Wuhan, the Party Central Committee moved promptly to set requirements for their rectification, and adjusted and added to the leadership teams of the Hubei Provincial Party Committee and Wuhan Municipal Party Committee.

Third, we have coordinated prevention and control work in other regions.

One after another, provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities activated level-one major public health emergency responses, and set up a joint mechanism and an all-of-society framework for prevention and control.

The epidemic began just as the numbers of people heading home for Spring Festival peaked. To arrest the spread from a national level, we issued a general call for people to minimize their movements in a collective effort to combat the epidemic, and thereafter, announced a timely extension to the Spring Festival holidays. This was enough to slam the brakes on any potential travel rush brought by return travelers.

At the same time, we provided stepped-up guidance and support for Beijing, Zhejiang, Guangdong, and other major cities and provinces with highly mobile populations, as well as places surrounding Hubei, requiring that they take targeted measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 from outside and within their jurisdictions.

Confronted with risk of the epidemic spreading as people began moving en masse again after the holidays, we responded ahead of time and postponed the new school term, encouraged business and production to restart in a flexible way, staggered work hours, and ensured that stringent measures for health monitoring, personnel management, and so on were implemented.

Fourth, we have strengthened emergency supplies of medical materials and daily necessities.

Waging war on an epidemic is essentially about fighting a war of logistical support. To this end, we have put into effect many proactive measures: we are supporting manufacturers of protective clothing, facemasks, and other urgently needed medical supplies to get back to full production quickly and to build up capacity and boost output in a variety of ways; a centralized system has been introduced to allocate important supplies nationwide, and “green channels” are in place for their transportation; and many measures are being taken to secure supplies of medical materials and living necessities in key areas.

We have done very well in organizing the production, distribution, and supply of agricultural and secondary agricultural products and ensuring coal, electricity, oil, and gas supplies, and have maintained overall stability in the market supply of daily necessities countrywide.

We are working as hard as possible toward the advance of pharmaceutical R&D and clinical applications, and these endeavors are starting paying off.

Fifth, we have safeguarded social stability.

In the history of China and other countries, major epidemics and natural catastrophes have too often led to a breakdown in social order, which in turn has compounded the consequences of disease and disaster. We have done extremely well to ensure social security and stability, dealing in an appropriate way with the different kinds of problems liable to arise in the course of prevention and control, maintaining order in medical care and the market, cracking down hard on epidemic-related crimes and breaches of law, and providing for people with more counseling and intervention services.

In the early stage of prevention and control, it was necessary to adopt strict traffic-control measures to swiftly halt the spread of the epidemic. However, in the course of their enforcement, some of the actions taken in some places were over the top. We moved immediately to urge local authorities to take corrective measures, and now normal order has been basically restored on all traffic arteries.

Sixth, we have strengthened public education and information efforts.

We have stepped up work to inform the general public about what’s going on, and coordinated our efforts online and offline, at home and overseas, for matters both big and small, helping to create a confident, heart-warming and cohesive atmosphere among our people.

We have standardized and improved the mechanisms for releasing information, communicated to people in detail the decisions and plans of the Party Central Committee, reported in full on the results of joint prevention and control measures in regions and departments, and told with vivid and moving descriptions people’s stories on the frontlines of prevention and control.

We have worked to widely spread knowledge about the disease, and encouraged people to treat the epidemic in a rational, appropriate way and to enhance their awareness of the need to self-protect and their ability to do so.

We have responded right away to social concerns, especially the more popular demands among the public. We have not shied away from any problems but have worked vigorously to bring about solutions.

Our communication with the rest of the world has been strengthened and improved, and we are speaking to the global community in a timely manner through a variety of channels, telling well China’s story of fighting the epidemic, exposing the hidden agendas of those who slander, smear, or peddle fictions to create trouble, and thus ensuring a positive environment for public discussion around the fight against COVID-19.

Seventh, we have actively sought the support of the international community.

In the wake of the outbreak, the international community has watched closely how China responds and how effective that response is. The strength, spirit, and efficiency of China, which the Chinese people have displayed for all to see during our prevention and control endeavors, along with China’s image as a responsible major country, have received high praise from the global community.

Leaders of over 170 countries and the heads of more than 40 international and regional organizations have, through phone calls, letters, and statements, expressed sympathy and support for China. It is the general consensus of the international community that, while taking comprehensive, effective measures to prevent and control the epidemic, China has actively cooperated and exchanged information with the WHO and the international community—moving quickly to share the whole genome sequences of some virus strains, successfully developing rapid testing kits, and doing its utmost to stop the epidemic from spreading to the rest of the world. In doing this, we have not only shown ourselves responsible for the health and safety of the Chinese people but also contributed to the world’s public health endeavors.

The international community at large is also of the belief that the resolute and powerful prevention and control measures taken by China, and the remarkable capacities in leadership, response, organization, mobilization and implementation it has shown, are beyond the reach of other countries and have set a model for the world in epidemic prevention.

This epidemic is the fastest-spreading, largest-scale, most challenging public health emergency China has faced since the founding of the People’s Republic. It has been for us both a crisis and a major test.

However, thanks to the arduous efforts of all involved, the current situation is increasingly turning for the better. It has been shown in practice that the Party Central Committee’s judgment of the epidemic situation is accurate, all work arrangements timely, and the measures adopted forceful and effective. The results we have achieved so far in prevention and control work have demonstrated once again the significant advantages of leadership by the Communist Party of China and socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Here, on behalf of the Party Central Committee, I wish to extend our sincere greetings to Party members, officials and people around the country, especially those in Hubei and Wuhan; our highest respects to the medical workers, the officers and soldiers of the PLA, and colleagues on all other fronts who are working on the frontlines of prevention and control; our heartfelt thanks to our countrymen and women in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and overseas; and our sincere gratitude to the countries, international organizations, and friends who have provided all kinds of support to China’s prevention and control efforts. I wish to express our deepest condolences for our compatriots who have died in the fight against the epidemic and health workers who have lost their lives while performing their duties, and our sincere sympathies to the people and families who are struggling with this disease, the families of those who died in service of the public, and the families of the patients who have died of the disease.

II. Current Priorities in Disease Prevention and Control

While fully affirming our achievements, we must be soberly aware that the situation remains grave and complex and that our prevention and control efforts are now in a crucial and most demanding stage. At this time, we must be highly alert to any tendency to slacken vigilance, to weary of the fight, to leave things up to luck, or to wind down the effort, otherwise we will face grim consequences, or even the undoing of everything we’ve so far achieved. Party committees and governments at all levels should firm up their confidence of victory, stiffen their resolve, and continue in an unremitting fashion to make swift, concrete, and exhaustive efforts to combat this epidemic. On no account should we claim success until a complete victory has been secured.

At present we should focus on the following key tasks.

First, we must win the battle to defend Hubei and Wuhan.

Victory in Wuhan will ensure victory in Hubei, and by extension victory across the rest of the country. With focus on arresting the spread in urban and rural communities and treating patients, we need to make concrete progress in raising the hospital admission and cure rates and bringing down the infection and mortality rates.

The spread of the epidemic must be resolutely stemmed. To this end, we need to significantly boost the numbers of personnel on the ground, especially in communities, step up epidemiological investigations, and weave tightly-knit community-based networks for epidemic control. We need rigorous grid management, a forward push of our defense lines to address infection sources, and trawls through all communities to screen for infections. All confirmed patients must be hospitalized, suspected patients tested and diagnosed, and close contacts quarantined, so as to achieve early detection, reporting, quarantine, and treatment. We need to pinpoint and control at-risk links and ensure no blind spots exist and no areas are left untouched.

We cannot afford the slightest slackening in our efforts to stop the exportation of cases from Hubei; tight controls on all routes out of Wuhan and the rest of the province must stay in place.

We should continue to step up treatment for patients, adding more hospital beds by various means, and working to make medical interventions as early as possible, so that patients will be cured when their conditions are still mild. We must intensify treatment for seriously ill patients, accelerate applications of effective diagnosis and treatment plans, and better combine traditional Chinese and Western medicine. We must ensure patients with severe disease are first in line for effective drugs and advanced medical equipment.

We should make full use of our best medical teams, placing them where they are most needed and assigning them a bigger role in treating critically-ill patients, giving counsel on cases, and refining diagnosis and treatment plans.

We will reinforce prevention and control efforts in regions with weaker capacities, coordinate outbreak responses in cities and prefectures, arrange paired assistance from other provincial-level regions to Hubei, and increase support for cities and prefectures with high numbers of confirmed cases and weak medical care capacities. We will strengthen guidance for epidemic prevention efforts in counties and townships, send reinforcements to designated county hospitals, and guard against the risk of infected individuals moving from cities to rural areas and vice versa.

All prevention and control efforts must proceed in accordance with law and regulations, and all work should be carried out in line with rule-of-law thinking and methods.

Second, we must make every effort to control the outbreak in Beijing.

The safety and stability of our capital has a direct bearing on the overall work of the Party and the country. We must take determined actions to prevent imported cases and curb the spread within the city. Nothing within our capacity should be left undone to cut off infectious sources and contain the outbreak.

We must secure Beijing’s first line of defense—the city’s entry points, and do a good job in health monitoring and personnel management. Meanwhile, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region at large should strengthen its joint prevention and control measures, with other provinces giving their heightened support to this endeavor.

Supplies for personnel in key epidemic prevention posts will be guaranteed via deployments through the State Council’s joint prevention and control mechanism and with the support of relevant government departments and organizations in Beijing.

Third, we must allocate medical resources and key supplies appropriately.

Medicines and doctors are as precious as troops and generals on a battlefield. Medical workers are the nucleus of any fight against an epidemic. It is critical that we give great attention to providing them due protection, care, and support.

So far, more than 2,000 medical workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and some medical personnel have died in the line of duty. This has filled me with a deep sense of grief. Just a few days ago, I expressly stated: “We must make sure medical teams in Hubei, including Wuhan, can do their work in a safe, orderly, coordinated, effective and swift manner. They should be well guided, deployed and provided for. Measures should be taken without delay to relieve the stress on medical workers, provide them with daily necessities, ensure their necessary rest, and give them moral support.”

We must take good care of our frontline medical workers. This entails providing sufficient protective materials, daily necessities and protection methods; rotating rest days, offering counseling services, and implementing pay increases, temporary subsidies, disease prevention allowances and improved incentive mechanisms; and helping to resolve any personal problems or difficulties they may have. By doing so, we will see that our medical workers are in good spirits, fully energized, and in the whole of their health while fighting this epidemic.

We need more practical actions to prevent nosocomial infections among medical staff, putting in place good protections and training for personnel, while ensuring free treatment for anyone who is infected. We must do everything in our power to prevent the loss of life among our medical staff. For frontline medical workers, we will introduce support policies and measures as soon as possible and arrange free health checks for them without delay. And after the outbreak has passed, we should increase paid vacation days for them and take their contribution to this fight into consideration when evaluating applications for professional titles.

At present, supplies of key medical equipment and materials in Hubei and Wuhan remain tight. We need to expand domestic production to meet medical needs as quickly as possible. We should closely watch the dynamics of market supply and demand, organize production of vegetables and animal products to increase supplies of meat, eggs and milk, and ensure smoother and faster transportation and logistics, with a focus on the “last kilometer” in the supply of daily necessities.

Fourth, we must speed up scientific research.

COVID-19 is a new contagious disease, and our knowledge of it is still rudimentary. We need to pool strength across multiple disciplines to crack the tough research issues and accelerate theoretical studies on the infection sources and transmission and pathogenic mechanisms. This will facilitate the formulation of more targeted and workable prevention and control guidelines to inform the restarting of business and production and the reopening of schools.

Intensified efforts in drug and vaccine development should be made in conjunction with clinical and prevention and control practices. We should harness the enthusiasm of research institutes, universities, and enterprises, and promote clinical applications proven safe and effective, so that breakthroughs can be made as soon as possible.

We need to improve analysis and research of infection cases, and promptly summarize and circulate effective diagnosis and treatment plans. We will make full use of big data analytics and similar methods as supports for epidemic prevention and control.

Fifth, we must expand international and regional cooperation.

Public health security is a common challenge faced by all of humanity and it calls for a collective response from all countries. As a responsible major country, China will continue to communicate with the World Health Organization, sharing disease prevention and control experiences with relevant countries, strengthening international cooperation on the development of antiviral drugs and vaccines, and providing as much assistance as it can to countries and regions where the virus is spreading.

Sixth, we must raise the effectiveness of news media and public communications.

Media organizations should keep up their good work in publicizing and explaining the major decisions and plans of the Party Central Committee, and cover good experiences and practices in disease prevention and control from around the country. The release of epidemic information needs to be improved, providing the public with information in a transparent, prompt and accurate fashion that accords with law.

The media should give extensive coverage to moving stories about frontline medical workers, PLA servicemen and women, public security officers, community-level officials, and volunteers, and work toward building positive energy, promoting what is true, good, and beautiful, and encouraging socialist cultural and ethical progress in our society.

To adapt to changes in the way the public get its information, mainstream media need to improve their ability to reach out online. We should proactively respond to public concerns, listen carefully to constructive criticisms, opinions and proposals, and take resolute law-based action to stop abusive attacks.

Seventh, we must ensure social stability.

It has been fully necessary to introduce some stringent control measures when combating this epidemic. However, in this current stage of outbreak control, regions other than those still facing heavy prevention tasks, such as Hubei and Wuhan, should shift to a more moderate approach, and adopt measures that cause minimal disruptions and inconvenience to people’s work and life wherever possible.

We need to improve the mechanisms for conflict and dispute prevention at source, detection and early warning, and resolution through multiple means, so that we can catch emerging problems and tendencies in epidemic prevention and control work.

We should provide counseling for patients, people in quarantine and patients’ families, and encourage all members of society to care for and support them. Meanwhile, we will crack hard down on illegal and criminal acts that disrupt medical treatment, epidemic control, and market and social order.

III. Coordinating Our Efforts to Curb COVID-19 and Promote Economic and Social Development

       Economies and societies are dynamic circular systems that can little afford to stand still for long. On the condition that all necessary prevention and control measures remain in place, we should encourage enterprises and public institutions to restart work and production and people to resume normal work and life in non-key prevention and control areas. Doing so is essential for ensuring sufficient material support for epidemic prevention and control, guaranteeing people’s basic needs and social stability, meeting this year’s objectives and tasks in economic and social development, bringing to completion the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the 13th Five-Year Plan, and promoting China’s endeavors to open up and the stability of the world economy.

       The outbreak of COVID-19 will inevitably have a considerable impact on the economy and society. At times like these, it is all the more important to take a dialectical, comprehensive and long-term view of China’s development and to stand stronger and firmer in our confidence. Viewed as a whole, our country’s economic fundamentals remain favorable for long-term growth. The impact of the outbreak will be short-lived and is largely manageable. As long as we turn pressure to motivation and challenge to opportunity, return to normal work and life in a well-organized way, take stronger actions to ensure stability in six areas,[1] and make more intensive policy adjustments to unlock the huge potential and dynamism of our country’s growth, we are sure to achieve the objectives and tasks for economic and social development for the year.

       First, we should adopt targeted measures for the resumption of business and production in different regions based on local conditions.

After the outbreak of COVID-19, we faced a huge challenge in quickly coalescing the energies of all sides into an all-out fight against the disease. Now the situation is easing, we are faced with yet another tremendous challenge: effectively coordinating prevention and control with the resumption of business and production. We can neither adopt a one-size-fits-all approach in different regions and impede the resumption of normal order in the economy and society, nor can we unduly loosen prevention and control measures for fear of undoing our previous achievements. This was the thinking behind my proposal at the February 12 meeting of the Political Bureau Standing Committee to adopt differentiated tactics for non-key epidemic prevention and control areas.

       Presently, the number of counties and county-level districts without a single confirmed case is 1,396, accounting for 46 percent of all counties nationwide. There are also numerous more counties and county-level districts with a very small number of total infections and almost no new cases. These low-risk areas should adjust their prevention and control tactics without delay to focus on preventing imported cases and fully resuming work and life. Medium-risk regions should resume business and production in an orderly way that takes account of the epidemic situation locally. High-risk regions, meanwhile, should stay fully focused on effectively bringing the epidemic under control.

As the situation continues to improve, provincial-level regions, where conditions are ripe, should lower their emergency response levels, with adjustments being made on a dynamic basis.

       Second, we should intensify macro policy regulation.

Macro policy needs to focus on counter-cyclical regulation, and its tempo and intensity must be effective enough to offset the impact of the epidemic, in order to prevent the main economic indicators from sliding out of an appropriate range and short-run shocks from turning into long-term trends.

       Our proactive fiscal policy must be made even more proactive and more impactful. We must make sure the policies we’ve already introduced, like interest subsidies on loans, large-scale fee cuts, and deferred tax payments, can be felt as soon as possible by businesses. We will continue to draw up, and implement time-limited, targeted measures to reduce taxes and fees, give greater support to some sectors to get them up and running again, and lend a helping hand to our micro, small, and medium-sized businesses to tide them over difficulties.

       We will pool a portion of the idle funds in central government departments to go toward disease prevention and control and key spending items. As some local government revenues have been badly affected, we will increase transfer payments to ensure county and township governments have sufficient funding for paying salaries, maintaining normal operations, and ensuring basic living needs. We will scale up special bond issuances by local governments and refine the composition of budgetary investment.

       We will pursue our prudent monetary policy with the right degree of flexibility, attaching greater importance to supporting the recovery and development of the real economy, putting to good use supportive financial policies already in place, and rolling out fresh policies and measures as needed.

       To address debt repayment, cash flow, and expanded financing needs and other urgent issues related to the resumption of business and production, we will innovate and improve our methods of financial support, set separate credit quotas for key epidemic prevention and control areas, and open up special credit lines for the sectors, small and micro firms, and private businesses heavily affected by the epidemic. We should undertake to adjust repayment and interest arrangements on business loans, step up loan extensions and renewals, and lower or waive interest on loans to small and micro businesses as appropriate, so as to forestall breaks in their capital chains.

       Third, we should strengthen all measures for keeping employment stable.

We must ensure our employment-first policy works well, adjusting its intensity based on changes in the employment situation, taking actions to simultaneously lighten the burden on enterprises, stabilize payrolls, and add jobs, and fully implementing the policies on reducing or waiving social insurance premiums in the current stage, refunding unemployment insurance payments to firms that keep their payrolls stable, and providing employment subsidies. To tackle salient problems such as serious labor shortages and extra pressure to maintain payrolls among businesses and difficulties in finding work among key groups, we will give support and assistance through more targeted policies to different localities, enterprises, and groups.

       We should encourage migrant workers in low-risk areas to get back to work as quickly as possible, and charter “point-to-point” transportation services to help them make their return. We should encourage flexible employment through multiple channels, and help self-employed traders resume business as soon as possible.

       We should expedite online unemployment registration and unemployment benefit applications, and see to it that everyone eligible is included in the scheme and receives the benefits they are entitled to. We should prioritize the employment of college graduates, and coordinate graduation, recruitment, and pre-employment testing arrangements to ensure students can graduate smoothly and get working as early as possible.

Fourth, we must secure victory in the fight on poverty.

This year we are to nail down victory in the battle against poverty. Originally, this entailed numerous tough tasks. Now there is also the impact of the epidemic to contend with, we need to redouble our efforts and make a big push to get all poverty reduction plans into place.

Regions sending out and receiving labor should strengthen coordination to ensure workers struggling with poverty return to their posts in an orderly fashion. We will support poverty-reduction plants and leading enterprises in quickly resuming production and creating job opportunities for local people.

We should ensure good linkages between production and sales and quickly address the difficulties some poor areas are having selling their agricultural and livestock products. We need to hasten the establishment of sound mechanisms to prevent the recurrence of poverty, and enact, without delay, measures to ensure anyone who does sink back or fall into poverty, whether due to the outbreak or any other reason, has their basic living needs covered.

Fifth, we must encourage enterprises to resume business and production.

We will implement targeted strategies for prevention and control in different regions based on local conditions. We need to unblock the congestion points affecting the movement of people and goods, and lift restrictions on freight transportation and logistics so workers can get back to work, firms can bring in raw materials, and finished products can get to market. All industries are tightly interlocked—one link blocked in the chain is enough to cripple enterprises both up- and downstream. Different regions need to work together to fortify production and sales linkages upstream and downstream, so that all links are coordinated on resuming business and production.

To expand effective domestic demand and speed up construction of both ongoing projects and new ones, we should strengthen support in terms of labor, land, capital, and other factors, make good use of central government investment, special bonds and policy-backed financing, and improve the composition of investment.

While posing challenges to industry, the outbreak also brings with it opportunities: some traditional industries have been hit badly, but emerging industries like smart manufacturing, unmanned delivery, online consumption and health care are showing powerful potential for growth. We should make use of this opportunity to transform and upgrade traditional industries and grow emerging ones.

Sixth, we must not let the spring farming season slip by.

Up and down the country, our famers are getting ready for spring ploughing. For our part, we must move quickly to help solve the salient problems hindering this work and ensure the production, circulation and supply of agricultural materials is well-organized so that spring sowing begins on time. Even the worst-hit province of Hubei and other badly affected provinces should, with consideration for local circumstances, organize farmers to begin work. As most farming activities take place out in the fields, any unreasonable restrictions on these should be scrapped to ensure no time is wasted.

We should also continue to enhance prevention and control of African swine fever, highly pathogenic avian influenza, and other major animal diseases and promote the comprehensive development of livestock and aquaculture farming.

Seventh, we must meet basic living needs.

Due to the outbreak’s direct impact on incomes and the added factor of rising prices, some people may find it tougher to get by. We must implement the system of provincial governors assuming responsibility for the “rice bag” and city mayors for the “vegetable basket,” in order to secure the supply of staple and non-staple foods. We should closely track the impact of the outbreak on market supply and demand and improve the allocation and supply of daily necessities to prevent a spike in prices.

We should ensure basic livelihood services are maintained and encourage service sectors that are integral to people’s lives to resume business in an orderly way. We should strengthen efforts to meet the basic living needs of people with financial difficulties and encourage areas, where conditions permit, to make appropriate increases to temporary price subsidies.

Special care should be provided for patients and especially families who have lost loved ones in the epidemic to ensure their basic needs are met. Visits should be made and necessary assistance given to key groups placed in quarantine at home such as elderly people who live alone, children living in difficult conditions, and people with serious diseases or disabilities, so as to prevent anything that could cross the moral boundary in society.

We need to coordinate efforts to ensure treatment for patients with other diseases, making certain that critically ill and emergency patients receive the treatment they need, people with chronic diseases have the necessary medicines available to them, and general patients have access to medical services.

Eighth, we must ensure stable foreign trade and stable foreign investment.

We should ensure foreign trade industry chains and supply chains are operating smoothly and maintain the international market share of our exports. We should make the best of available policy tools like export tax rebates and export credit insurance, expand the availability of export credit, and relax underwriting and claims requirements as appropriate.

We need to simplify customs clearance procedures, lower port and inspection and quarantine charges, and provide more foreign exchange facilitation services.

We should encourage all regions to keep foreign investment stable and growing and to ensure all major foreign investment projects are carried out. Finance and other service sectors should be opened wider to foreign competition. We should also keep working to improve the business environment, doing a good job of not only attracting foreign investors but also creating a comfortable and stable environment for them, so as to enhance their confidence about investing and operating in China long-term.

IV. Strengthening Party Leadership over Coordinated Efforts to Prevent and Control the Outbreak and Promote Economic and Social Development

Strong winds put sturdy grass to the test; hard times define dedicated officials. Whether we can win an all-out people’s war against the epidemic is a major test for Party organizations at all levels, Party members and officials. All Party organizations must diligently fulfill their leadership responsibilities, particularly their duty to ensure full and careful implementation of all decisions and arrangements of the Party Central Committee, so as to ensure that on the frontlines of the fight against the outbreak the flag of the Party flies high.

Whether officials are politically solid depends on whether they can be relied on at critical moments. Generally speaking, during the fight against COVID-19, our officials have performed well and proven themselves up to the test. A small number, however, have been below par and some have fared very poorly. Some officials are lacking courage, are unwilling to shoulder responsibility, and are indecisive and overcautious, always waiting for word from above before doing anything. Some are slipshod and slow-moving and have no idea of what’s going on or how to proceed. Some are perfunctory and superficial, pay no attention to detail or real results in their work, and still persist with pointless formalities and bureaucratism. Others shirk and dodge work and responsibility at every opportunity and in some cases have even turned tail and ran at critical junctures. Such practices show extreme irresponsibility toward the Party and the people and must not be tolerated. We must take firm action to address them.

True Communists rise to the challenge and put themselves at risk at the most critical moments. As we make coordinated efforts to control this outbreak and foster economic and social development, we officials at all levels, and particularly those in leadership positions, must strengthen our confidence, drawing on the great fearless spirit of the revolution—to overcome all one’s enemies and never accept defeat—in order to lead from the front and see our actions speak to the true political character of Communists. We should take greater responsibility, putting into action our original aspiration and taking our founding mission on our shoulders, fulfilling all duties our roles entail, and showing initiative through proactive actions. With stronger compassion, we should serve as close friends of the people and resolve problems of immediate concern to them. We should remain vigilant, prepare for the worst consequences risk factors might bring, and keep working for solutions to everything that needs resolving with thorough and meticulous efforts right up until final victory is won.

Party organizations at all levels should observe and judge officials working on the frontlines. Those who perform excellently should be rewarded and promoted, those who neglect or are derelict in their duties should be held to account, and anyone deserting their post at a critical moment should be directly removed from office.

Party members, officials, and organizations whose performance stands out should be brought to public attention and commended in a timely manner. Candidates for Party membership who perform excellently on the frontlines can be admitted into the Party directly. Outstanding organizations and individuals on the frontlines should, according to the circumstances, be commended by the Party Central Committee, the State Council, the Central Military Commission, by Party committees or governments at different levels, or by regions, departments, or other parties involved.

Communities are at the forefront of the joint prevention and control efforts, public prevention and governance initiatives, and endeavors to resume business and production, thus making them the key to ensuring all measures are implemented to the letter. Party organizations and officials at the community level should extensively mobilize, organize and bring people together to see full implementation of joint prevention and control measures and create a tight-knit line of defense with the participation of all our people. We should inform and advise people patiently and carefully and encourage them to keep the broader picture in mind, to follow disease prevention and control regulations, and to maintain public order conscientiously.

For some time now, community-level officials, officials from other levels who have gone to work at community level, and especially officials and people in epidemic-stricken areas of Hubei including Wuhan, have been fighting continuously against the disease and enduring great hardship. Party organizations and governments at all levels should provide them more care and support and act quickly to help them resolve their practical difficulties and problems, and more officials from higher-level Party and government agencies, enterprises, and public institutions should be sent to work in communities.

We must stop different authorities sending overlapping tasks and forms to community-level organizations, take firm steps to address pointless formalities and bureaucratism, and ensure community-level officials are free to concentrate on frontline prevention and control and the resumption of business and production.

To win this people’s war against the epidemic, we will naturally need to rely closely on the people. Communities are the key line of defense of joint prevention and control efforts and all-of-society prevention and control initiatives. We must ensure more manpower and resources for prevention and control are channeled toward the community level so as to firmly hold the line there.

Trade unions, Communist Youth League organizations, women’s federations, and other people’s organizations should organize and mobilize the members of the public they are in touch with to get involved in epidemic prevention and control. For non-governmental participation we should ensure better organization and guidance, open up more channels, and offer encouragement and support. We should see that industry associations, chambers of commerce, and other social organizations play a role in guiding and assisting their members to adopt science- and risk-based epidemic prevention measures and resume operations in an orderly fashion. The expertise of social workers should be harnessed, encouraging them, along with volunteers, to provide counseling, emotional support, and social security assistance. Charities and the Red Cross must be run more efficiently and transparently; they should readily accept oversight and ensure everyone’s kind and generous donations go to good use.

In responding to this epidemic, notable weaknesses have been exposed in our major epidemic prevention and control mechanisms and public health emergency management systems. We need to review experiences, draw lessons, and look closely at major issues, such as how to put public health on a stronger legal footing, reform and improve disease prevention and control systems and major epidemic prevention, control, and treatment systems, strengthen major disease medical insurance and assistance systems, and develop a sounder, unified system for ensuring emergency supplies. We need to address inadequacies, close off loopholes, and shore up weaknesses as soon as possible and improve the capacity and competence of our response to major public health emergencies.

We should continue to follow a prevention-focused public health policy, carry out patriotic health campaigns, and step up efforts to train health workers and strengthen disease prevention and control capacity at the community level. By integrating treatment with prevention, we will be able to genuinely address issues as they arise and before they spread unchecked.

Finally, there are three points I would like to make to all comrades taking part in today’s conference.

First, concentrate on implementation.

This year we are faced with increasing risks and challenges in China’s development, which, together with the impact of the epidemic, will make it more difficult to accomplish our economic and social development tasks. With the perseverance to not let up until the problems we’ve seized are fixed, and the determination to keep going until we’ve seen our tasks through, we need to focus our minds and get to work, persisting with a problem-oriented approach to sort out and deal with every single issue, at every level, affecting implementation, so as to ensure all tasks are accomplished.

Second, be more mindful of potential dangers.

I’ve raised this issue on countless occasions. In January 2018 at the opening of the study session on implementing the guiding principles of the Party’s 19th National Congress, I enumerated 16 risks on eight different fronts. I stated, “We also need to be constantly alert to and take strict preventive measures against major epidemics like SARS.” We must have all the caution of someone treading on thin ice and an eye so keen it sees autumn coming with the turn of a leaf. We should not only be alert to and guard against major risks in our own fields, but also pay close heed to major risks of a general nature, offering views and suggestions at the earliest possible moment.

Third, work to improve competence.

In the battle against the epidemic, it is clear that the governance capacity and professional competence of some leading officials is short of where it needs to be—an issue we must take very seriously. Everyone needs to enhance their overall capability and their capacity to control situations. They should study and master professional knowledge in their own areas and work to become expert leaders in their fields.

Comrades,

       The Chinese nation has been through many trials and hardships in its history, but never has it been broken. Instead, it has risen stronger time and time again and forged ahead with greater courage. I believe that, under the firm leadership of the Party Central Committee, with the notable strengths of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the full mobilization of our people and our strong composite national strength, and through the collective efforts of all Party members, all service personnel, and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, we will win this battle against the epidemic, maintain the momentum of national economic and social development, and accomplish the tasks and targets for securing a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and completing the final push in the fight against poverty.

 



[1] The six areas are employment, finance, foreign trade, foreign investment, investment, and expectations.


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