China moves to help firms resume operations amid epidemic
Published: Feb 07, 2020 11:06 PM


China's central and local government officials on Friday rolled out a series of measures to support businesses across the country, as they prepare to resume operations soon despite continuing efforts to contain the deadly virus.

The supportive fiscal, monetary and other policies for companies taking part in the fight against the coronavirus and others that have been affected by a lockdown also marks the start of intensifying efforts by officials to fend off potential blows to the economy by the epidemic.

The new wave of supportive policy measures kicked off at a press briefing by central government officials on Friday morning, when they announced various fiscal and monetary policies to not only support companies joining in the fight against the virus but also to help other businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to cope with the potential impact.

Among the measures from central government officials are reduced costs of funding, lowered taxes and administrative fees and increased liquidity for the financial system. At the briefing, Vice Finance Minister Yu Weiping vowed more policies to focus on fighting the epidemic and to help companies resume operations.

Although a nationwide campaign to contain the coronavirus outbreak, which remains a top priority, is expected to continue, businesses in some areas are reportedly set to resume operations as soon as next week and there are rising calls for speedy resumption of economic activities.

"We must take action immediately to resume operations to hold firm our standing in the global supply chain," Wang Wen, executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China (RDCY), told the Global Times on Friday. "We must tackle both issues simultaneously and firmly. We cannot just focus on the battle [against the epidemic] and on security and give up production." 

On Friday, officials were moving toward that direction. Following the press briefing by central government officials on Friday morning, a rising number of provinces from East China's Fujian to South China's Guangdong to Southwest China's Sichuan have also followed suit in announcing their own measures to help businesses get back on their feet.


The Fujian provincial government, for example, rolled out 24 measures to "fully support all types of companies" to resume production. In line with the central government's broad measures, Fujian's efforts are also aimed at easing financial burdens on businesses, including setting up a 500 million yuan ($71.58 million) special fund to offer discount loans to companies affected.

In Guangdong, officials released a comprehensive guideline on helping companies resume operation and production, and to ease their labor and financial burden. Local officials have been asked to take precautionary measures to ensure safety at businesses and expand the labor market. Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, also rolled out its own similar measures on Friday.

Officials in provinces including South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Northeast China's Liaoning, have also released similar measures to help businesses resume operations.

The measures come as concerns over the potential negative impact of the epidemic on the Chinese economy continue to deepen, with many businesses and factories remaining closed and as ill-intentioned foreign attacks on China's economic governance system and the health of the economy intensify.

Wang said that a recent study conducted by the RDCY has shown that while efforts to combat the epidemic deserve credit, there are signs of "overreaction" in some areas where industries have "lost orders." Sectors such as catering, lodging and tourism have been hit hard and factories face difficulties in resuming production. 

However, there are positive signs for the world's second-largest economy. The Chinese stock market has seen a solid rebound over the past few days after hefty losses on Monday, the first trading day since the Chinese New Year. 

Defying grim predications, the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.33 percent higher on Friday, contributing to a 5.83 percent gain over the past week. The smaller Shenzhen Component Index gained about 9.3 percent this week.