Passengers wear masks as they arrive at Beijing Station on February 2, 2020, amid growing concerns over the spread of the new coronavirus. Photo: Yomiuri Shimbun / AFP

China’s central bank said Sunday it would pump 1.2 trillion yuan (US$173 billion) into the economy as it ramps up support for a nationwide fight against a deadly virus that is expected to hit growth.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said in a statement it would launch a 1.2 trillion yuan reverse repurchase operation on Monday to maintain “reasonable and abundant liquidity” in the banking system, as well as a stable currency market, during the epidemic.

It added that the overall liquidity of the banking system would be 900 billion yuan ($129 billion) more than in the same period last year.

The move will kick in the day that China’s financial markets reopen, following an extended Spring Festival break.

The virus has now infected over 14,000 people in China and claimed over 300 lives.

Travelers wear masks near Beijing Station on February 2, 2020. Photo: The Yomiuri Shimbun / AFP

On Saturday, the PBOC also announced a range of measures to step up monetary and credit support to enterprises that are helping in its fight against the virus epidemic, such as medical companies.

China’s central bank urged financial institutions to provide “sufficient credit resources” to hospitals and other medical organizations, among other measures.

The move to inject liquidity into its financial system comes as the virus threatens to take a toll on an already slowing economy.

China saw economic growth of 6.1% last year, the slowest in around three decades. Analysts are warning this could weaken further if the spread of the SARS-like virus goes on for an extended period.

A Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering website displays statistics about deaths and confirmed cases of coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, across this worldwide map. Image: Johns Hopkins Magazine

Global reactions

As of 1600 HK time, the coronavirus outbreak had killed 305 people and infected 14,591 in mainland China and beyond, forcing governments around the world to take drastic measures.

From border closures to flight bans, here are some of the steps states have taken to limit the spread of the virus:

Travel bans

The United States on Friday temporarily banned the entry of foreign nationals who had traveled to China over the past two weeks.

Major restrictions were also placed on US nationals, with mandatory 14-day quarantines for those returning from the Chinese province at the epicenter of the outbreak.

The only foreign nationals exempted from the ban are immediate family members of American citizens and permanent residents.

Australia and Israel followed suit with a similar ban on non-citizens who have traveled to China in the last 14 days.

New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Mongolia have announced similar restrictions on people traveling from China.

Maldives passengers wear masks after arriving at New Delhi airport from Wuhan. Photo: Indo-Tibetan Border Police / AFP

Border closures

Some nations have closed their borders with China in a bid to protect their territory from the outbreak.

Russia said Thursday it was closing its frontiers with China in the Far East, while Kazakhstan has halted cross-border bus and passenger train services to China.

Mongolia has closed its border with China to cars, while North Korea – an isolated nation that relies heavily on its links with China – banned foreign tourists.

Vietnam on the weekend announced a suspension of all mainland China flights.

Nepal closed its Rasuwagadhi checkpoint on the Chinese border for 15 days starting January 29.

Papua New Guinea went further than the others: it shut its air and seaports on Wednesday to all foreign travelers coming from Asia. The impoverished nation also shut its only land border with the Indonesia-controlled province of West Papua.

Visa bans for Chinese

A number of countries have temporarily stopped issuing visas to Chinese nationals after the coronavirus outbreak.

Singapore has stopped issuing all types of visas to Chinese travelers, while Vietnam – a popular destination for Chinese tourists – has halted tourist visas.

Russia, a close Beijing ally, announced Saturday it would halt visa-free tourism for Chinese nationals and also stop issuing them work visas. It had already stopped issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals that allowed them to cross the border in parts of the Far East and western Russia.

Similar visa restrictions of varying scale have been imposed by the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and the African nation of Mozambique.


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