A man carrying a bundle o​f recyclable scraps walks past​ a luxury boutique in Beijing, October 2016
Qilai Shen / Panos Pictures / Redu​x

As life grinds to a halt in much of the world because of the novel coronavirus, the country that until recently was the hardest hit by the deadly pandemic is slowly coming back to life. The number of new infections in China has fallen dramatically in recent weeks, and cities across the country are returning to something close to normal. Residents are coming out of quarantine, once more strolling in parks and even venturing into restaurants and coffee shops. Companies are reopening and people are starting to return to work, although authorities have banned international visitors to prevent new cases from being imported. Last month, the tech giant Apple shut its retail stores globally—with the striking exception of greater China.

Will China be a lone bright spot as other major economies struggle with the virus in the months ahead? And when the crisis finally ends, will China resume its role as the major driver of global growth, boosting the fortunes of multinationals once again? That appears to be the hope of many who have praised China for its draconian and seemingly effective response to the virus while forgetting or forgiving its initial blundering attempt to cover up the outbreak.

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