Scott Kennedy, senior adviser with the Washington, DC, think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, visited China in October. “When I was there, it seemed clear to me that, privately, officials understood they needed to exit zero-Covid, and that plans were in the works to do so that would be implemented after the 20th Party Congress,” he says. That took place later that month and cemented President Xi Jinping’s third term.
In fact, China did relax some zero-Covid rules in early November, including softening quarantine restrictions for overseas travelers. But when cases rose, officials brought lockdowns back.
China faces a few specific problems that would exacerbate the spread of the virus if it entirely lifts the policy. The nation is an outlier in that its elderly population, one of the groups most at risk, is somewhat hesitant to get jabbed. Kennedy says the low uptake may be partly due