China needs to promote economic development to improve people’s health: economist
Published: Jun 16, 2022 10:14 PM
Beijing CBD Photo:VCG

Beijing CBD Photo:VCG

Boosting the economy can improve the health of the people and prolong their life expectancy, Li Daokui, Mansfield Freeman Chair Professor of Economics at Tsinghua University, said Thursday after gaining widespread attention for saying that fighting the COVID-19 epidemic is equivalent to adding 10 days to people’s lifespan. 

The health of the people is the top priority in China’s fight against the epidemic, Li said at the Ifeng Finance Summit 2022 on Thursday, noting that people’s health fundamentally depends on the improvement of living standards, which is directly affected by the sustainable development of the economy.

For every life saved over the past two years, everyone has gained 10 days of life, Li said at the 2022 Tsinghua Wudaokou Chief Economist Forum on May 14, when talking about China’s anti-epidemic efforts. 

Li’s remarks drew attention online and attracted some controversy. “I’m afraid the pressure caused by the epidemic can’t be alleviated by adding 10 days to people’s life expectancy,” one netizen commented on the Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo.

In this regard, Li further expressed on Thursday that the core of his view is to find ways to boost economic development, so as to continue to improve the health of the people and prolong their average life expectancy.

The expert noted that increased investment in public health, advances in medical technology and promotion of healthy lifestyles, as well as the foundation of all this – economic development and improvement of living standards – are significant reasons for the increase in Chinese people’s health and life expectancy.

China’s anti-epidemic policy should not only aim to contain the spread of the virus and reduce the loss of life, but also to protect China’s industrial chain, which is the basis of the country’s future economic growth, the expert remarked.

At a time when many factories in China are facing disruption due to strict anti-epidemic measures, the US is adopting a variety of tools to rope in or convince Asia-Pacific countries to shift their supply chains out of China.

“Under the current situation, China must find ways to protect the stability and safety of the industrial chains while implementing the dynamic zero-COVID policy,” Li said. “Protecting the industrial chain will safeguard China’s growth potential for the future.

Li also mentioned at the summit that society should pay more attention to the living conditions of vulnerable groups amid the epidemic, as a large number of low- and middle-income people have been badly affected.