BEIJING: The world is opening its wallet to fight the effects of the coronavirus outbreak. The United States unveiled a $2 trillion rescue package. European countries have announced their own spending blitz, and Japan approved a nearly $1 trillion economic stimulus plan.
The country that famously helped kick-start the world economy after the 2008 global financial crisis with a half-a-trillion-dollar spending splurge has been relatively restrained this time around. While it is helping companies keep workers and pushing its state-run banks to lend more, China has held back from spending on big packages or flooding its financial system with money.
In an odd juxtaposition, the communist country has also mostly refrained from giving money directly to its people. By contrast, President Donald Trump — who once denounced the prospect of growing socialism in the United States — signed into law a package that includes $1,200 checks for all but the most affluent American adults.
A growing number of people say China should do more. Prominent economists are calling on Beijing to get the country’s consumers spending again. At least seven provinces and cities are already distributing vouchers to empower spenders.
Justin Lin Yifu, an influential government adviser, called at a conference last week for China to rekindle economic growth by introducing vouchers nationwide that must be spent quickly or become worthless.