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China, the NDB and the end of the Covid storm

The RMB7 billion emergency loan handed out by the New Development Bank to China this week will be the last of its kind, the Shanghai multilateral’s CFO Leslie Maasdorp tells Euromoney.

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When this correspondent visited Shanghai in the last week of January 2020, the city was all but deserted, its citizens sheltering from an oncoming storm. The glow of streetlamps in the rain revealed only an occasional taxi or midnight jogger.

They were right to hide. Before Covid engulfed the world, it eroded China’s growth story and briefly rattled its politicians. That it bounced back faster than other big economies is due to its efficient handling of the pandemic – after an admittedly rocky start – and strong export data.

Economic output expanded 2.3% in 2020, according to data from Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics, making it the only major economy to grow last year.

It is still hard to get into China – something World Health Organization officials, keen to pinpoint the origins of the coronavirus in Wuhan, found when initially denied access to the country in January.

Economic output expanded 2.3% in 2020... making it the only major economy to grow last year

But standard health protocols aside, things feel back to normal in mainland cities.

More proof that China will be the first country to find its feet post-Covid arrived in the form of a press release issued on Tuesday by the New Development Bank (NDB), a Shanghai-based multilateral owned by five emerging markets, including China, India and Brazil.