The GuardianThe Guardian

‘It was all for nothing’: Chinese count cost of Xi’s snap decision to let Covid rip

By Helen Davidson and Verna Yu

30 Jan 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

Public anger is growing in China, with some estimates suggesting there have been around one-million Covid-related deaths. The Guardian reports on how people are feeling within Chinese society.

When Sunny* thinks back to March last year, she laughs ruefully at the ordeal. The 19-year-old Shanghai student spent that month locked in her dormitory, unable to shop for essentials or wash clothes, even banned from showering for two weeks over Covid fears. In April, the entire city locked down.

It was the beginning of the chaos of 2022, as local Chinese authorities desperately tried to follow President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid decree while facing the most transmissible strain of the virus yet: Omicron. “Everyone was panicking, no one was ready,” she tells the Observer.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content