China pledged Friday to maintain its radical "zero COVID policy," including complete quarantine and lockdowns when necessary, emphasizing that it has proved effective at containing outbreaks of the coronavirus.

"It is the right and effective way," and the outcome is "good," Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the Chinese legislature, said at a press conference ahead of the annual session of the National People's Congress from Saturday.

Photo taken on March 3, 2022, shows the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, where the National People's Congress is to convene an annual session two days later. (Kyodo)

All of the data, such as the number of infections and fatalities, as well as economic indicators, suggest China is "one of the most successful countries in the world" in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, Zhang said.

Zhang's remarks came as many Chinese citizens are believed to be frustrated by all-encompassing constraints under the ruling Communist Party's policy, now in place for more than two years.

In recent months, authorities have imposed full lockdowns on some cities since the highly contagious Omicron variant was first confirmed in China last December.

"Of course, any prevention and control measures have costs, but compared with protecting people's lives and health, these costs are worth it," Zhang said, adding the negative impact of the strict anti-epidemic policy on life is "limited."

In China, speculation is rife that the ruling party is unlikely to ease the enforcement of the zero COVID policy until the end of its twice-a-decade congress in the fall, during which President Xi Jinping is set to secure a controversial third term as leader.

Rather than relaxing regulations, the Xi leadership could tighten them to ensure it can trumpet its achievements in bringing the coronavirus under control, some foreign affairs experts said.

On Friday, meanwhile, China's top political advisory body convened its annual meeting hours before the Beijing Winter Paralympics was set to kick off later that evening.

The body, formally known as the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, provides the government with feedback and advice on key policy issues, but its decisions have no bearing on what the party leadership ultimately does.

The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference convenes its annual meeting in Beijing on March 4, 2022. (Kyodo)  

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