China's Xi says countries need to join forces in protecting world economy

FILE PHOTO: Chinese President Xi jinping speaks during a meeting with Tedros Adhanom, director general of the World Health Organization, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, January 28, 2020. Naohiko Hatta/Pool via REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese President Xi Jinping said countries should join forces in stopping the world from entering a recession due to a coronavirus outbreak, according to state media.

The pandemic has sickened more than 488,000 people around the world and killed over 25,000. There is no vaccine against the flu-like respiratory disease, which first surfaced in central China late last year.

“The epidemic has hit global production and demand in every way, and countries need to leverage and coordinate their macro policies and prevent the world economy from falling into recession,” Xi said in remarks at an extraordinary summit of G20 world leaders on the COVID-19 pandemic held via video link.

“Fiscal and monetary policies must be implemented effectively, coordination of financial regulations must be strengthened, and (countries) have to work jointly to safeguard the stability of the global industrial supply chain.”

He also urged China’s fellow G20 member nations to cut tariffs, remove barriers and facilitate trade, Chinese state media reported.

China will step up imports and increase foreign investment, while continuing to implement a pro-active fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy, Xi said.

G20 leaders said various measures underway to protect their economies would inject $5 trillion into the global economy, according to a joint statement.

As part of that, China is implementing $344 billion of mainly fiscal measures in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak, a Foreign Ministry official said on Thursday.

Reporting by Ryan Woo and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Mark Heinrich