The country has abruptly abandoned the vast bulk of its harsh measures to contain coronavirus following protests. That carries considerable risk
Despite the rigidity of the Chinese Communist party’s politics and grip on power, it can sometimes change course at a startling pace. The most obvious was its economic turn from Mao to market. More recently, it flipped from its one-child policy of limiting births to actively trying to boost them.
But the turnaround on its zero-Covid policy is truly astonishing in its speed. In mid-October, Beijing was still boasting of an “all-out war” on Covid-19, despite its evident unsustainability and punitive economic effects. Two weeks ago, the foreign ministry’s spokesperson tweeted scathingly of 1m Covid deaths as part of “The price of ‘freedom’ in the US … What we want is to protect our people’s lives.”
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