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The Guardian view on China’s zero-Covid strategy: no way out? | Editorial

The human costs of lockdown in Shanghai have sparked frustration and despair. But leaders have no exit strategy

Even by the standards of China’s overzealous censors, suppressing a hashtag that simply quoted its national anthem was striking stuff. The opening line – “Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves!” – had been deployed to express the growing anger and distress in Shanghai as what was supposed to be a short, sharp lockdown stretched on for weeks, with gruelling results for individuals as well as damaging effects on the economy. On Wednesday the city eased restrictions somewhat, with millions allowed to leave home for the first time in weeks. Yet even if the worst proves to be over in the financial centre, experiencing China’s biggest outbreak since the virus first emerged in Wuhan, concerns about the country’s insistence on a zero-Covid strategy will persist.

Outside China, the attention has been on the draconian nature of restrictions, with reports of the separation of small children from their parents, people dying from other medical problems because they could not access help, and the beating to death of a dog whose owner had apparently been sent to a quarantine centre. Plenty in China have lambasted the inhumanity, but it is also the inefficiency of authorities which has shocked. An international, sophisticated metropolis is asking why officials insisted there would be no lockdown until the last minute, leaving residents no time to prepare; why the testing and isolation process appears beset by confusion; why conditions are so poor in crowded quarantine centres; and why food is in such short supply. Officials have admitted “difficulties”. Delivery remains at the centre of the party’s legitimacy, even if nationalism has become an increasingly potent force.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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