China’s top leader Xi Jinping has issued the strongest warning yet against anyone who questions the country’s zero-Covid policy as strict and frequent lockdowns fuel public discontent and deal a devastating blow to the Chinese economy.
At a meeting chaired by Xi on Thursday, the Standing Committee of the ruling Communist Party’s Supreme Political Bureau vowed to “unswervingly adhere to the overall policy of ‘dynamic zero covid’ and resolutely fight against any words and deeds that distort, doubt or deny the right of our country”. epidemic prevention policies. This is the first time Xi, who according to state media gave an “important speech” at the meeting, has made public comments on China’s battle against Covid since public furor over the harsh lockdown erupted in Shanghai.
“Our prevention and control strategy is determined by the nature and mission of the party, our policies can withstand the test of history, our measures are scientific and effective,” the seven-member committee said, according to the government news agency. Xinhua.
“We have won the battle to defend Wuhan and we can certainly win the battle to defend Shanghai,” he said.
For analysts who have long watched Chinese politics, the stern warning is a sign that there has been an internal pushback against Xi’s covid-zero policy from within the party.
“This language should be read as a direct criticism of unspecified local CCP leaders who have questioned the policies at the center, or who have not been successful enough in enforcing them,” wrote David Bandurski, co-director of the China Media Project.
“And it’s hard not to hear in this sentence about the condemnation of leaders in Shanghai in particular for ‘moral morality,'” Bandurski added.
Over the past five weeks, many Shanghai residents have taken to social media to ask for help and vent their anger over severe food shortages and lack of access to healthcare. Some protested from their windows, banging pots and pans and screaming in frustration, others even clashed with police and health workers in the streets, a rare scene in a country where dissent is routinely cracked down on.
The dire economic fallout has also raised concerns among economists and business executives, especially given Shanghai’s role as the country’s main financial center and a major manufacturing and transportation hub. In April, China’s services sector, which accounts for more than half of the nation’s GDP and more than 40% of its employment, shrank at the second-fastest pace on record, while the manufacturing sector also contracted.
And as Omicron spreads in other parts of China, more local governments are imposing swift lockdowns in response to just a handful of cases. In Beijing, where more than 500 cases have been reported since April 20, many fear a Shanghai-style lockdown as authorities implement ever-tightening restrictions.
But the latest statement from the country’s top leaders has made it clear that the Chinese government is doubling down on its approach of relying on rapid lockdowns, mass testing and quarantine to crush the highly transmissible Omicron variant for the foreseeable future.
“We must resolutely overcome lack of awareness, unpreparedness, insufficient work and other problems, and resolutely overcome contempt, indifference, self-righteousness and other [trends] in our thinking,” the Standing Committee said in a warning to cadres.
Wu Qiang, a political analyst in Beijing, has said since April that the question of how the government should deal with the country’s worst outbreak since Wuhan has become a “road fight” within the party.
“First of all, it’s a fight over whether to choose ‘dynamic zero covid’ or a more flexible approach to fighting covid; and secondly, it is also a fight over whether to make Covid control or economic growth the priority,” Wu said.
And with the latest statement, it is clear that Xi picked the first in both “fights,” according to Wu.
Xi has put his personal stamp on China’s zero-Covid strategy, with state media often reporting that he has “personally commanded and arranged” the country’s fight against the pandemic.
“In that sense, covid zero has become an unquestionable and unquestionable policy that is closely tied to its political authority and therefore there will be no flexibility when it comes to its implementation,” Wu said.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.