Beijing eases zero-Covid measures

China's government has reacted to the massive protests against its zero-Covid policy and announced that it will ease Covid regulations. Among other measures, infected people will be able to isolate at home rather than having to go to state quarantine facilities, and lockdowns will be limited and no longer affect entire cities or rural areas.

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The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Exploit Xi's weakness

Events show that if the resistance is tough enough, the members of the ruling elite in Beijing will buckle, observes The Daily Telegraph:

“If they can be made to rethink their approach to major domestic policy, there is no reason why they cannot be persuaded to reassess their aggressive posture on global issues like Taiwan, a point Western policymakers would be well-advised to take on board as they consider their options for containing Beijing's ambitions for world domination. ... Ultimately, with the Chinese Communist Party facing its sternest test since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, we may never have a better opportunity to let Xi Jinping know there are limits to his authoritarian conduct.”

hvg (HU) /

Further easing of measures would be risky

The conditions for an end to protective measures are not in place in China, explains hvg:

“Vaccination has been neglected in China. ... It is not prepared to use Western mRNA vaccines but only the domestic vaccines with lower efficacy. ... Neither the artificial immunity induced by vaccination nor the natural immunity acquired by surviving infection in the population are sufficient to allow the lifting of restrictions. ... The easing of measures demanded by the demonstrators could therefore lead to chaos, which is what the Chinese Communist Party wants to avoid.”

Le Point (FR) /

Between a rock and a very hard place

Le Point sees only one way out of the crisis that President Xi has brought upon his country:

“Xi Jinping has the choice between two nonviable solutions: either he prolongs and tightens the zero-Covid strategy at the price of a stagnating economy, growing social discontent and a widening rift between the Communist Party and the people. ... Or he lifts the restrictions, which would lead to at least a million deaths if he is not prepared to introduce Western vaccines.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

Frustration runs deep

Tygodnik Powszechny comments:

“It is still too early to judge whether the adopted measures will appease public opinion. The slogans that have recently been heard on the streets of Chinese cities cannot be so easily banished from public memory. They touch layers of frustration much deeper than those caused by the pandemic. When the news of the death of Jiang Zemin, the country's president from 1993 to 2003, made the rounds on the third day after the end of the protests, the internet was flooded with a wave of nostalgia for the China of yesteryear. Certainly, it was poorer than it is today, but it developed very quickly and at the same time gave people more freedom. These feelings are also a form of protest against Xi Jinping's authoritarian regime.”