March 2, 2020 / 9:38 PM / a month ago

China's U.N. envoy says Beijing confident it will meet economic goals despite coronavirus

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - China’s U.N. ambassador, Zhang Jun, said on Monday that while the coronavirus outbreak has had a “negative impact” on the country’s economy, Beijing was working to revitalize and was confident it would reach its economic goals for 2020.

“Definitely the epidemic, the coronavirus, has caused a negative impact on the Chinese economy,” Zhang told a news conference at the United Nations to mark China’s presidency of the Security Council for March.

“But meanwhile because of the strong resilience, because of the enormous domestic consumption and the domestic market and because of the solid foundation of the Chinese economy, we are very much confident that we are able to realize the goals we have set for this year, the economic goals, the social goals,” Zhang said.

Despite that optimism, China faces a big challenge in getting its economy back on track after the prolonged shutdown caused by the outbreak.

Economists estimate the extreme measures taken by the Chinese government to contain the outbreak mean growth slowed substantially, and may have even contracted in the first quarter.

“We do have confidence about the future of the Chinese economy,” Zhang said.

The virus broke out in China’s Wuhan city late last year and has since infected more than 86,500 people, mostly in China. Outside China, meanwhile, more than 60 countries now have cases, with more than 8,700 infected and more than 100 deaths.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols at United Nations; Editing by Sandra Maler and Matthew Lewis

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