søndag 1. mai 2022

As China looks on at a world opening up, can Xi Jinping survive zero-Covid?

Across much of the world people are taking international holidays, returning to the office, and going to festivals and political rallies. Faced with the seemingly unstoppable Omicron variant, they’ve decided to live as close to normality as they can in the presence of Covid-19, limiting its impact. But in Covid-zero China it’s a vastly different story.

An estimated 340 million people in at least 46 cities are under some form of lockdown or restrictions in China, as cases appear in multiple provinces – often in so far tiny quantities. On Thursday Guangzhou authorities grounded hundreds of flights after the detection of a suspected case. In Hangzhou all residents have been told to test every 48 hours if they want to travel around the city.

In Shanghai some residents are hanging out their windows banging pots and pans in nightly protest at a weeks-long lockdown beset by food shortages. A loudspeaker driven through the streets tells them their protest has been “incited by foreign forces”, while flying drones urge they “control your soul’s desire for freedom”.