China’s leaders held a triumphant ceremony to celebrate beating the coronavirus on Tuesday, as billions of people around the world still suffer the fallout from the pandemic and the global death toll nears 900,000.
The upbeat mood in Beijing comes as concerns grow about a resurgence of Covid-19 across Europe, with France tightening restrictions, cases in Britain spiking and schools resuming around the region in recent days.
Worldwide infections to date now stand at more than 27 million and over 890,000 people have died from the disease, with the pandemic showing no sign of peaking.
But in China the virus has been all but banished through a combination of lockdowns and travel restrictions earlier in the year that have officials touting the nation as a coronavirus success story.
President Xi Jinping said China had passed “an extraordinary and historic test” during an awards ceremony for medical professionals decorated with bugle calls and applause.
“We quickly achieved initial success in the people’s war against the coronavirus,” Xi said.
“We are leading the world in economic recovery and in the fight against Covid-19.”
The nation’s propaganda machine has been attempting to seize the narrative surrounding the pandemic, reframing the episode as an example of the agility and organisation of the Communist leadership.
Xi had stern words for China’s doubters, saying “selfish moves, any buck-passing and deeds that confuse right and wrong” risked inflicting damage across the world.
China put its homegrown Covid-19 vaccines on display for the first time at a Beijing trade fair this week and authorities hope the jabs will be approved for use by year-end.
The vaccines are among nearly 10 worldwide to enter phase 3 trials, typically the last step ahead of regulatory approval, as countries race to stub out an illness that continues to ravage large parts of the globe.