The New York TimesThe New York Times

From zero-COVID to no plan: Behind China's pandemic U-turn

By Chris Buckley, Alexandra Stevenson and Keith Bradsher

19 Dec 2022 · 7 min read

Editor's Note

China's Communist Party has given up its "zero COVID war." But now, its people are left to improvise as the virus rapidly spreads. The NYT reports on the potentially devastating consequences.

The southwestern city of Chongqing was the latest frontline of Xi Jinping’s “zero-COVID” war, until it came to epitomize China’s potentially devastating about-face that has cracked the Communist Party’s edifice of absolute control.

The city last month was enduring one of the biggest outbreaks cropping up across China, when the national leader, Xi, ordered officials to continue mass testing, lockdowns and quarantines. Chen Min’er, the Chongqing party secretary, devoutly complied, closing off neighborhoods and ordering the instant construction of a quarantine hospital designed to hold up to 21,000 beds.

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