March 4, 2020 / 11:35 PM / a month ago

China to see strong economic rebound after coronavirus, Chinese envoy to Canada says

OTTAWA (Reuters) - China’s ambassador to Canada said on Wednesday that world’s second-biggest economy will bounce back quickly once the new coronavirus outbreak has passed because it is still fundamentally healthy.

FILE PHOTO: China's new ambassador to Canada Cong Peiwu attends a news conference for a small group of reporters at the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, Canada November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

“The impact on the Chinese economy will be temporary and short lived,” Cong Peiwu told Reuters. China’s economic fundamentals remain robust and consumer spending and production have only been delayed, he said.

“Hopefully across the nation we’ll see a strong rebound in the not-too-distant future,” he said.

The comments come as the number of new daily infections from the COVID-19 virus is increasing outside of China faster than inside, and that follows crippling Chinese restrictions imposed to stop its spread, including transport suspensions and the extension of the Lunar New Year holiday.

Mainland China had 119 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, the National Health Commission said, down from 125 the previous day, in a broad trend that has seen numbers of new cases fall from the middle of February.

“After several weeks of fighting against this disease, the message is that COVID-19 is a virus that can be contained,” Peiwu said. “It’s a common challenge. We have to fight against the disease together.”

Canada has only seen about 30 cases so far, and no deaths. Peiwu praised the country for not over-reacting and being “clear-headed and evidence based”, while Beijing has accused the United States of scaremongering for its quick evacuations and travel restrictions.

However, Canada’s measured reaction has not paved the way for a resolution to the long-running dispute between the two nations, which started in December 2018 when Canadian police arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, on a U.S. arrest warrant.

Shortly afterward, Beijing detained two Canadian men who were later charged for spying and are still being held.

“Of course, there’s still an outstanding issue between the two countries,” Peiwu said.

The first phase of the legal battle over whether Meng should be extradited to the United States wrapped up in January. China has repeatedly demanded that Ottawa release her, but the Canadian government says it will not interfere in the judicial process.

“It’s our consistent hope that the Canadian side will make the right decision,” the ambassador said.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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