China’s fear of Covid-19 has helped it keep the disease mostly in check. That seems pretty healthy. But its measures have also been unusually harsh, and they’re still happening almost two years into the pandemic, notes Nancy Qian. Whole cities are still going in and out of lockdown like it’s Spring 2020. This isn’t good for an already shaky economy. But Beijing’s political clout depends partly on keeping a Covid clean sheet. The country also lacks the health infrastructure to handle any surge in new cases a fuller reopening might bring.
Covid anxiety is also cutting China off from a world souring on it after years of growing tension. Draconian travel restrictions make it harder for the Chinese diaspora to visit home, writes Shuli Ren. This means millions of potential goodwill ambassadors won’t be able to share information between China and the rest of the world. That’s how misunderstandings grow.