China’s Dynamic Zero-COVID Policy & The Role of Religious Leaders in tackling the epidemic in communities
Ma Lirong/ Director, OIC Studies Center, Ministry of Education,China/ Director, Institute of Silk Road Strategy Studies, Shanghai International Studies University/ Chief Editor, Journal of New Silk Road Studies
China’s Dynamic Zero-COVID Policy & The Role of Religious Leaders in tackling the epidemic in communities
Director, OIC Studies Center, Ministry of Education,China
Director, Institute of Silk Road Strategy Studies, Shanghai International Studies University
Chief Editor, Journal of New Silk Road Studies
Hello everyone, the title of my speech is China’s Dynamic Zero-COVID policy and the role of religious leaders in tackling the epidemic in communities. My presentation will be divided into three parts, which are: the Dynamic COVID-Zero policy in China, cases analysis of Chinese religious circles participation in communit, Chinese paths for religious leaders making roles.
Let’s start the first part– the Dynamic COVID-Zero Policy in China.
First of all, let me talk about the meaning of the policy. On December 7, 2021, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan stated that we had established a policy called “Dynamic COVID-zero”, which has achieved maximum effectiveness at minimal cost in containing COVID-19, so we should continue to adhere to it. So, what is “Dynamic COVID-zero”? It’s not zero infection, but once an outbreak is detected, the fastest identification and disposal, cutting transmission chains, so that the overall number of infected in the community tends to zero, using the minimum cost in exchange for the maximum benefit of the community. If we do not pursue “Dynamic COVID-zero”, the spread of COVID-19 in the community will continue to increase, forming a large-scale epidemic rebound and causing more significant harm to society and the economy. Therefore, China has followed the law of COVID-19 transmission to implement precise measures and has taken the “four early” steps of early detection, reporting, quarantine, and treatment to cut transmission chains.
Professor Zheng Lei from Fudan University understood the “Dynamic COVID-zero” policy from the perspective of system dynamics.The “dynamic” refers to a state and process of incoming and outgoing, just like the mathematical problem of “tank draining”. If the water valve cannot be closed, the key is to reduce the incoming water and increase the drainage capacity to control the scale of water accumulation. “Dynamic COVID-zero” is a policy that “if water gets in, drain it”, to prevent mass cases from spilling out of the tank like “accumulated water”.
The “Dynamic COVID-zero” policy is illustrated following the “tank draining” principle. The entering water should be reduced and we need to drain the water away, which means we should try to avoid cases and cure cases. It is a dynamic process, with water in and out, controlling the scale of water accumulation to prevent cases from spilling out of the tank.
On September 7, 2022, Chang Jile, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, stated in a press conference:”We must deal with the relationship between short-term and long-term, local and overall, with unswerving strategic determination, continuously optimize prevention and control policies and measures according to the time and place, and efficiently coordinate COVID-19 prevention and control with economic and social development. It is not only the basic requirement of adhering to the scientific spirit and attitude but also the realistic choice of following scientific laws.”
In short, China’s “Dynamic COVID-zero” policy is an open system that needs to be constantly enriched and improved, determined by the reality of the worst pandemic in a hundred years that humanity is facing.
Then, les’s move to the reasons of the policy. The “Dynamic COVID-zero” policy reflects the reality of traditional Chinese culture. “Human life is above all.” There is no hesitation in choosing the former between people’s lives and economic interests. China has prioritized increasing the cure rate and reducing the death rate, and the “Dynamic COVID-zero” will maximize the protection of people’s right to life and health. It is the best embodiment of the Chinese civilization’s moral philosophy of “human life is of paramount importance”.
The “Dynamic COVID-zero” policy is the preferred option in line with China’s primary national conditions. China is a large country with a large population and a high degree of aging. Because the medical resources in China are insufficient, and the regional development is unbalanced, slacking off will result in massive infection, severe cases and death, affecting social life and economic development. It is because of the “Dynamic COVID-zero” policy that China has been able to withstand the impact of COVID-19 round after round and has managed the relationship between “saving people” and “saving the market”. It makes China a global leader in economic development and COVID-19 prevention and control.
The “Dynamic COVID-zero” policy is a vital strategy to highlight the advantages of China’s political system. In the past three years, China has established a unified and efficient command system and a strict prevention and control system with the participation of the whole people, actively carried out a full range warfare of manpower organization, equipment supply, scientific and technological support, and resource movement, and concentrated its greatest strength in the shortest possible time to block the spread of the epidemic. It proves the obvious advantages of China’s political system in responding to the epidemic in a hundred years. Under the strong support of this national unified system, this policy has become the “magic key” for China to beat the epidemic.
The “Dynamic COVID-zero” policy is an inevitable choice to consolidate the primary position of China’s communities. China has two fronts in the fight against COVID-19. One is the hospital’s position to save lives, and the other is the community’s position for prevention and control. To fight COVID-19 with national efforts, we must give full play to the critical role of communities in prevention and control the epidemic. We should advocate the participation of all people in the community to fight against COVID-19. While strengthening prevention and control without relaxation, we should steadily and orderly liberalize economic and social activities to form an operation order compatible with prevention and control. Therefore, the “Dynamic COVID-zero” policy has become the inevitable choice to consolidate the primary position of China’s communities in the fight against COVID-19.
What about the ffectiveness of the policy? WHO reported a cumulative total of 521 million confirmed cases and more than 6 million deaths worldwide as of May 2022, with a mortality rate of 1.2%. It indicates that the most severe epidemics are in Europe and the Americas, where medical resources are relatively abundant, and in Southeast Asia, where medical resources are scarce.
Table 1 shows the latest data for the relevant countries from the WHO report of May 2022. We can find that the proportion of deaths in the total population of China is less than 0.01‰.
China has excelled not only in the global fight against COVID-19 but also in the global economic recovery. In April 2022, the International Monetary Fund released data that the estimated growth rate of the global economy in 2021 was 6.1%, and the estimated growth rate of China’s economy was 8.1%, with import and export trade growing by 21.4%. The development trend of China’s economy remains stable and positive, providing strong support for the world’s economic recovery.
China advocates building a “Health Silk Road” and strives to promote global cooperation in the fight against COVID-19. On March 26, 2020, President Xi Jinping proposed a “four-point initiatives” to help the global fight against COVID-19 and economic recovery in his speech at the G20 Leaders’ Summit. In his opening address to the 73rd WHO Conference on May 18, 2020, President Xi Jinping made “six recommendations” and announced “five measures” for China to support the global fight against COVID-19.
The “five measures” are: China will provide $2 billion in international aid within two years. China will cooperate with the United Nations to establish a global humanitarian emergency warehouse and hub in China. China will establish a cooperation mechanism for Chinese hospitals to pair up with those in Africa. China will make its COVID-19 vaccine a global public product after developed and used, in order to contribute to the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries. China will work with G20 members to implement the Debt Service Suspension Initiative for the poorest countries to increase support for these countries to fight against COVID-19.
As of June 2022, China has provided more than 2.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to more than 120 countries and international organizations, and more than 100 countries have approved the use of vaccines produced in China, making China the country that provides the most vaccines. As of June 2022, the Chinese government has provided 4.2 billion protective suits, 8.4 billion testing reagents, 372 billion masks, and 2.2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to countries around the world, sent 37 medical expert teams to 34 countries, and shared experience in epidemic prevention and control with more than 180 countries and international organizations. In addition, China has carried out joint vaccine production with more than 10 countries, supported the exemption of intellectual property rights of COVID-19 vaccines for the vast number of developing countries, launched the “Belt and Road” vaccine partnership initiative with 30 countries and the largest global humanitarian action since the founding of New China, etc.
Wall Street Journal issued on February 19, 2022 that, “China’s policy of epidemic prevention and control has been affirmed. Goals of minimizing the number of deaths and economic interference have achieved under the “Dynamic Zero-Covid”policy. It analyzes that the different effects in fighting against epidemic from different countries lies in the people’ s trust in the government. Among them, Chinese people highly trust in their government, while American people have low trust in their government.”
On May 6, 2022, the British “Daily Telegraph” issued an article by Matthew Lynn: “Nothing can stop the rise of China”. He said, “China’s epidemic prevention and control measures will ensure that its medical and health system can withstand the epidemic impact, and China will usher in rapid economic growth when epidemic is under control. China is the world’s second largest economy, and what happens in China affects other countries and regions in the world. The rise and strong economy of China remains the “most important story” in the 21st century.”
In short, as released in “Fighting Covid-19: China in Action” from China’s white paper in June 2020: “As a responsible major country, China has always adhered to a community with a shared future for mankind, actively promoted and participated in international cooperation in the field of health, and strived to make greater contributions to promote the community of human health.”
Let’s move to the next part. Cases analysis of Chinese religious circle’s participation in community-based epidemic prevention and control action. During his visit to Wuhan on March 10, 2020, President Xi Jinping pointed out that, “China has two fronts in fighting againt the epidemic, one of which is the hospital, where doctors can save the dead and the wounded, and the other one is the community’s epidemic prevention and control places. It is necessary to give full play to the community’s important role in the process of epidemic prevention and control, and to advocate all members to participate in it.” Therefore, three Chinese religious groups who participate in community epidemic prevention and control action were specially selected as cases for analysis.
Case 1 is Xinjiang religious people participating in Community-based epidemic Prevention and Control Action. From January to February in 2020, Chinese Islamic Association issued the “Notice on Implementing Epidemic Prevention and Control Measures”, ” Carrying Forward the Fine Tradition of Islam and Contributing to Overcome the Epidemic”, ” Concentrating and Helping Each Other– Proposal on Doing a Good Job in Epidemic Prevention and Control”, etc. They call on all local Islamic associations and mosques to fully cooperate with community epidemic prevention and control action. The main parts are as follows: Combining online and offline religious activities together. Advocating Muslims to participate in the community epidemic prevention and control action. Carrying out donation activities.
The photos are taken in Urumqi and Changji in Xinjiang .
Good effects are showed gradually.In the past three years, there have been several small-scale epidemic fluctuations in Xinjiang, which are all under control. The cultural tourism market in Xinjiang has maintained a good momentum:”In 2019, the number of domestic and foreign tourists received by Xinjiang exceeded 200 million for the first time and reached 209 million. The tourism revenue was 345.265 billion RMB with an increase of 41.6% and 40.4% respectively.” “In 2020, it received 158 million tourists in Xinjiang and achieved the tourism revenue of 99.212 billion RMB.” “In 2021, the number of tourists in Xinjiang was 191 million with an increase of 20.52%, and the tourism revenue was 141.569 billion RMB with an increase of 42.69%.” “Xinjiang is trying to improve tourism service and strive to receive 250 million tourists by 2022.”
Case 2 is Tibetan religious people participating in Community-based epidemic Prevention and Control Action. During the year of 2021to 2022, the “Notice on Further Strengthening COVID-19 Prevention and Control Measures” , the “Proposal on Doing a Good Job in COVID-19 Prevention and Control by Representatives of Tibetan Buddhist Circles in Tibet”, the “Notice on Seriously Carrying Out Epidemic-Free Temples Activities “, etc. were issued by the Buddhist Association of China, which call on Buddhist temples from all over the country to fully cooperate with the community-based epidemic prevention and control action. The main parts are as follows: Holding epidemic-free temple activities. Combining online and offline religious activities together. Carrying out donation activities.
The photos are taken in Nyingchi and Qamdo in Tibet.
In the past three years, Tibet has onlyexperienced small-scale epidemic fluctuations recently , and all of them are under control. The cultural tourism market in Tibet has achieved remarkable results. “In 2019, Tibet received a total of 40.1215 million domestic and foreign tourists with an increase of 19.1% over the same period last year, achieving a total tourism revenue of 55.928 billion RMB with an increase of 14.1% from the same period last year.” “In November 2020, Tibet received a total of 34.988 million domestic and foreign tourists, achieving a total tourism revenue of 35.827 billion RMB.” “In 2021, Tibet Autonomous Region received 41.5 million tourists with the tourism revenue of 44.1 billion RMB.” “From January 1 to June 30, 2022, Tibet has received a total of 17.174 million domestic and foreign tourists, including 5,126 inbound tourists and 17.1689 million domestic tourists, and achieved a total tourism income of 17.652 billion RMB.”
Case 3 is Quanzhou religious people participating in Community-based epidemic Prevention and Control Action. From January to March in 2020, the Bureau of Ethnic& Religious Affairs of Quanzhou issued an ” Emergency Notice on Doing a Good Job in Covid-19 Prevention and Control measures”, the “Notice on Further Doing a Good Job in Social Propaganda About Religious Prevention and Control on Covid-19 ” and the “Notice on ‘double suspension’ of Religious Venues Implementation”, etc., which call on five major religious groups, including Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism, and Christianity, to fully cooperate with the Community-based epidemic prevention and control action. The main parts are as follows: Combining online and offline religious activities together. Advocating the five major religious groups to integrate into the community epidemic prevention and control action. Carrying out donation activities.
The photo on the left shows Community-based epidemic prevention and control action of Buddhism. And the photo on the right is taken in March 15, 2020 for the donation of Christianity.
The epidemic prevention and control measures of Muslims in Quanzhou celebrate the Qurban Festival on July 31, 2020 are:
- Reasonably controlling the number of participants in the ceremony.
- Strictly controlling the entrance procedure of the ceremony.
- Shortening the preaching time for the Qurban festival.
- Suspending the slaughtering activities in the Qingjing Mosque.
- Suspending Tourists from visiting the Qingjing Mosque on that day.
In the past three years, the epidemic situation in Quanzhou has been generally stable and controllable. In July 2021, the project of ” Quanzhou: The World Marine Commerce and Trade Center in Song and Yuan Dynasties of China” has been successfully included in the “World Heritage List”. It makes Quanzhou, which is known as the “Museum of World Religions”, become a popular tourist destination for domestic and foreign people, and the Quanzhou cultural tourism market continues to develop steadily.
In 2019, the total number of domestic and foreign tourists received in Quanzhou increased by 17.1% over the previous year. Among them, the domestic tourists increased by 17.6%, while overseas tourists decreased by 1.0%. The total tourism revenue for the year increased by 20.5%. In 2020, the number of domestic and foreign tourists dropped by 33.7% compared with the previous year. Among them, the domestic tourists dropped by 32.6%, while the overseas tourists dropped by 80.0%. The total tourism revenue for the year dropped by 43.1%. In 2021, the number of domestic and foreign tourists increased by 6.6% over the previous year. Among them, the domestic tourists increased by 7.0%, while the overseas tourists decreased by 70.3%. The total tourism revenue for the year increased by 6.2%. During the Spring Festival in 2022, the number of tourists received in Quanzhou increased by 4.5% over the previous year. The tourism revenue was 869 million RMB with a year-on-year increase of 22.4%.
After analyzing three cases, it was found that: the “Dynamic Zero Covid “policy has achieved remarkable results in Community-based epidemic prevention and control action.The role of religious leaders in Community-based epidemic prevention and pontrol action is highlighted!
Then, let’s move to the last part: Chinese Paths for Religious Leaders Making Roles.1.Formulating basic measures for daily action against Covid-19 in religious sites: in the exploration and practice of emergency anti-epidemic to normalized anti-epidemic by religious groups, the decision-making role of religious leaders was highlighted by formulating the “One Temple, One Policy”measure for fighting against Covid-19.
- Organizing both online and offline religious activities: the organizational role of religious leaders is highlighted by combining online and offline ways to carry out daily religious activities, festival religious activities, and unexpected religious ritual activities.
3.Coordinating religious groups to cooperate with communities in fighting against the epidemic: a new pattern of cooperation between religious circles and communities on fighting Covid-19 is formed in the exploration of religious groups integrating into the community-based epidemic prevention and control action, and meanwhile the coordination role of religious leaders has been highlighted.
So the conclusion is as following:firstly, the Dynamic COVID-Zero Policy in China
It is the result of the joint shaping of traditional Chinese cultural concepts and the main anti-epidemic positions of Chinese communities. It is also a realistic choice for China to cope with the new epidemic situation, which is in line with China’s national conditions and has given full play to the advantages of China’s political system. It has also promoted the international proposition of building a “healthy silk road”, forming a linkage effect both at home and abroad. It has produced real effectiveness in fighting the epidemic of “China’s contribution” both at home and abroad.
Secondly, cases analysis of Chinese religious circle’s participation in community-based epidemic prevention and control action such as in Xinjiang, Tibet and Quanzhou. It reflects the important role played by China’s five major religious groups in the implementation of the policy, and highlight the important role of religious leaders in Chinese communities. The good momentum of the cultural and tourism markets in the three places in recent years is the tangible and realistic results brought by China’s precision of subjects, flexibility of objects and linkage of mechanism in combating the Covid-19.
Last but not least, Chinese religious circle has gradually formed a “Chinese path” during participating in the community against epidemic. It’s highlighting the roles of religious leaders in decision-making, organization and coordination, which has made the Chinese community achieve remarkable results in harmonious religious relations, harmonious religious and secular relations, stable social life, and controllable epidemic situation. At present, China continues to implement the policy of “dynamic 0-Covid”, China is aiming to further coordinate epidemic prevention and control, economic and social development and international exchanges and cooperation.
In the future, China will further play the important role of the main position of community against the epidemic, and the role of Chinese religious leaders in community will continue to be highlighted, with a promising prospect.