CHINA: UNCERTAIN COMMITMENT TO COVID-19 STIMULUS PACKAGE

SARA SHARPE WRITES — Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, countries have been scrambling to create effective and realistic economic stimulus packages. China has promised a year-long fiscal stimulus package amounting to 3.6 trillion yuan ($500 billion USD) in an attempt to continue its strong rate of economic growth, but has not specified measures they may take to introduce stimulus packages to unemployed individuals or businesses; nor has it announced whether they will discharge individual stimulus checks.

While China has fallen behind in implementing an effective stimulus package, other major Asian powers such as Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong have not. Japan announced a JPY 270 trillion ($221.8 billion USD) package to help employers provide workers with a daily stipend available to all employers affected by COVID-19. Additionally, Japan’s stimulus package includes numerous fiscal measures to compensate for tax changes and includes childcare subsidies as well. These will be available for residents from April 1st until June 30th.

Similarly, South Korea and Hong Kong have also introduced sizable stimulus packages. South Korea’s 240 billion won ($200 billion USD) package will assist small businesses – those who are self-employed, or unemployed due to COVID-19. South Korea is also aiming to create approximately 550,000 new jobs. Hong Kong’s stimulus package, which costs the government HK $137.5 billion ($17.7 billion USD), includes a singular payment of HK $10,000 ($1,284 USD) to every permanent resident – every one, no questions asked. Both South Korea and Hong Kong’s stimulus benefits will include options for small business loans and tax cuts for those affected.

The decisive actions of these Asian powers — Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan — underscore the crisis of China’s comparative laggardly policy plans. Yet, China has been more heavily affected by  COVID-19. This raises concern for the overall future economic growth of China.

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