Chinese Businessman and Economist Argues Against Strict Lockdown Measures for Fear of Damage to China’s Economy

Chinese Businessman and Economist Argues Against Strict Lockdown Measures for Fear of Damage to China’s Economy

Don’t let arbitrary local quarantine guidelines prevent China’s labor force from returning to work.

Huxiu, 2020

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COVID-19, the illness caused by a novel coronavirus first discovered in Wuhan, China, has now become a pandemic affecting countries around the globe. As many countries follow in China’s footsteps with city lockdowns and quarantines, taking a look at China’s experience over the past couple of months may prepare you for what might happen. In this article, economics professor and demography expert Liang Jianzhang voices concern for the heavy toll that countrywide quarantines and restrictions on movement are having on the economy. He advises a more balanced, specific and data-driven approach.


Local neighborhood committees are implementing stricter-than-required quarantine measures for residents returning from other regions of China.

As of midnight on February 15, 2020, 166 new cases of COVID-19 were discovered outside of the virus’s epicenter, Hubei province. That number was 890 on February 3, and had been dropping for 12 days straight. This is an indicator that the spread of the novel coronavirus has been quelled in most of the country, Hubei excluded. China’s Ministry of Health is now encouraging cities and townships to minimize disturbances to daily life. But few localities are loosening the reins.

[Editor’s Note: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious viral respiratory disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), also known as “novel coronavirus.” Reports in December 2019, from Wuhan, China, first cited the disease, which has spread globally, resulting in the 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic that affects people and businesses worldwide.]

To combat COVID-19, China’s localities have adopted the most stringent of protective measures. Most of these measures are absolutely necessary and should...

About the Author

James Jianzhang Liang is the chairman, former CEO, and co-founder of Ctrip, one of China’s largest providers of travel services. He earned a PhD in economics from Stanford University and is currently a research professor of economics at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management.