* After experiencing the country's hard but extraordinary fight against the virus over the past three years, many foreigners working or studying in China have offered their insights into China's evolving COVID-19 response strategy.
* "I think that China has been particularly successful in managing the pandemic since the very beginning of 2020, without compromising the health of its people, which is the top priority of the government of course," Mauro De Felip said.
* Josef Gregory Mahoney said some international critics of China's COVID-19 policy underestimate the global public health value of the controls, which, aside from protecting the roughly 20 percent of the world's population that lives in China itself, has also suppressed countless new mutations and new economic disruptions that would have further imperiled global supply chains.
BEIJING, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- For the past three years, Mauro De Felip, general manager of Ferrero China, has been spending most of his time in China, particularly in Shanghai.
"I think that China has been particularly successful in managing the pandemic since the very beginning of 2020, without compromising the health of its people, which is the top priority of the government of course," De Felip said.
After experiencing the country's hard but extraordinary fight against the virus over the past three years, many foreigners working or studying in China have offered their insights into China's evolving COVID-19 response strategy.
De Felip remembers in particular the first year of the epidemic. "I think they made the right move at that moment. And the results are there to also justify this in terms of the containment of the virus and the protection of the Chinese people at the end."
Facing the COVID-19 in early 2020, China adopted swift, resolute and great efforts to contain the virus and achieved a decisive victory in the battle to defend Hubei Province and its capital city Wuhan in about three months.
Data shows that China logged the lowest COVID-19 incidence rate and death toll among all major countries in the world during the period.
The principle and practice of putting the people and their lives first, which China has been upholding in the fight against the virus, also impressed Yulia Temelidi, a Russian student at Tsinghua University.
"No matter you're a foreigner or you're a citizen of China, it always puts you as a person first," said Temelidi, a junior majoring in economy.
A health worker administers a dose of COVID-19 vaccine to Anna Lujza Honecz from Hungary at a vaccination site in Tsinghua University, Beijing, capital of China, April 3, 2021. (Xinhua/Chen Zhonghao)
"I think the overall COVID policy was consistent and well carried out. I felt safe all the time, and the vaccines were provided to us all in a timely manner," said Maria Sofia Molina Bulla, an Argentinian who teaches Spanish at Tongling University in east China's Anhui Province.
Josef Gregory Mahoney, a professor of politics and international relations at East China Normal University, returned to China in December 2021 from the United States. He praised what he had seen in China as "an unprecedented public health achievement."
"In fact, China has innovated control methods, improved them, and demonstrated their efficacy by saving millions of lives. They have succeeded and are still succeeding. The science has been improved and so have the controls," said Mahoney.
Medical workers help a 101-year-old COVID-19 patient surnamed Li as she leaves the Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, Nov. 26, 2022. (Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital/Handout via Xinhua)
Ramón Sariego-Villar, managing director for Electrolux China and Northeast Asia, has been in Shanghai since 2019. In his opinion, China has kept things under control over the past few years, not only from the standpoint of COVID-19 prevention, but also from an economic perspective.
"In 2020 and 2021, we had fantastic results. We have record high sales and even a very good profitability. And this year still, we are on track. So very good results I would say," Sariego-Villar said.
Mahoney said some international critics of China's COVID-19 policy underestimate the global public health value of the controls, which, aside from protecting the roughly 20 percent of the world's population that lives in China itself, has also suppressed countless new mutations and new economic disruptions that would have further imperiled global supply chains.
OPTIMISTIC ABOUT NEW PHASE
In the view of Molina Bulla, these past three years have bought China enough time to deal with the virus. "The health sector is in much better condition, both theoretically and practically, and the virus is not as deadly as before," she said. "And also, it had enough time to make sure the population gets vaccinated."
Mahoney has also seen China's efforts over the past several months to make epidemic controls less onerous and more efficient.
"What we are seeing is an orderly, gradualist transition that accounts for China's unique demographic challenges. We can seek a different path, which I think is what we are trying to do in China presently, feeling the stones by crossing the river," he said, adding that this includes new policies that aim to ensure livelihoods while fighting COVID-19 resurgences, which are being implemented.
A resident collects medicine at a fever clinic in Kaifu District of Changsha, central China's Hunan Province, Dec. 20, 2022. (Xinhua/Chen Zhenhai)
However, the professor noted, some countries look at China through a perverse lens: they fail to acknowledge the country's successes, because they politicize everything about China ideologically.
De Felip held a similar view. He said the new measures that China has taken in optimizing COVID-19 response will allow the country to adapt better to the new variant of the virus. "I really think that will also allow the country to go into a new phase of the management of the virus and a new normal step by step."
The interviewed foreigners are optimistic about China's recovery in normal life and work, believing it will have a positive impact on the economy overall.
"Step by step, we need to rebuild the consumer confidence. And when the consumer confidence comes back, the consumer demand will come back as well," Sariego-Villar said.
He said his company was able to move to a new office in Hongkou District, Shanghai, with the support of the local government, indicating the local government's interest in attracting foreign investment and driving business.
"We have been able to prevent the epidemic and continue developing the economy well at the same time," Sariego-Villar said.
A volunteer helps a foreigner to check identity information at a COVID-19 test site in Chaoyang District, Beijing, capital of China, May 5, 2022. (Xinhua/Ju Huanzong)
Molina Bulla said China's COVID-19 policies and experience in this regard would enable the country to be well-guarded for any other viruses that might come in the future. "People know now what to do, how to organize themselves, and not to panic, and the government has proved that it can take care of its people no matter what," she said.
(Video reporters: Shang Yang, Ni Hanlin, You Zhixin and Li Haiwei; video editors: Ni Hanlin, You Zhixin, Shang Yang and Guo Ying)