China shrugs off IMF warnings on zero-tolerance Covid approach

The IMF warned in its latest forecasts of the risks to the global recovery and the need to escape the grip of the pandemic /AFP/File

Beijing shrugged off IMF warnings about the economic impact of its aggressive anti-Covid policy, saying on Wednesday that China has achieved "significant results" and is a key driver of global growth.

The International Monetary Fund lowered its growth outlook for China and the rest of the world on Tuesday and said Beijing's zero-Covid policy -- which has seen entire cities locked down over a handful of cases -- has spurred a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

It might be time for Beijing to "recalibrate" its stance in order to ease pressure on global supply chains and economic growth, the fund's newly-installed first deputy managing director Gita Gopinath told AFP.

But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the country's "status as an important engine of global economic growth has not changed," adding that Beijing has achieved "significant results" in its economic rebound and boosting global economic recovery.

"China has always adopted scientific, comprehensive and effective prevention and control measures," he told reporters.

The IMF cut 0.8 points off China's expected growth this year, forecasting it at 4.8 percent in the quarterly update to its World Economic Outlook. Global growth was reduced by half a point from the Fund's October estimate.

Although the Chinese economy made a quick bounceback after the virus first emerged in central Wuhan city, growth in the final three months last year slowed to four percent with the economy shaken by a series of shocks towards the end of 2021.

Economists have cautioned that growth is under pressure in the country, partly because of renewed Covid outbreaks and restrictions.

China reported 24 domestic coronavirus cases Wednesday, more than half in the capital Beijing.

Although numbers are low compared with those in other countries, Beijing's zero-Covid approach has seen harsh local lockdowns imposed over handfuls of cases.

Many restrictions have hit port cities, manufacturing centres or financial hubs, clogging crucial points in China's supply and production chains.

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