Xi Jinping sends warning to anyone challenging China’s anti-zero Covid policy

At a meeting chaired by Xi on Thursday, the ruling Communist Party’s Supreme Standing Committee on Politburo pledged to “unwaveringly adhere to the general policy of” dynamic zero Covid “and to fight resolutely against any word or deed that our country. epidemic prevention policies “.

This is the first time that Xi, who according to state media has made a “keynote speech” at the meeting, has made public remarks about China’s fight against Covid since public outrage over the tough lockdown in Shanghai .

“Our prevention and control strategy is determined by the nature and mission of the party, our policies can stand the test of history, our measures are scientific and effective,” the seven-member committee said, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

“We won the battle to defend Wuhan and we will certainly be able to win the battle to defend Shanghai,” he said.

China's Covid controls threaten to trigger crisis for country - and Xi Jinping leader

The Standing Committee also asked executives to have a “deep, complete and comprehensive understanding” of the policies set by the party’s central leadership.

“We must resolutely overcome the problems of inadequate awareness, inadequate preparation and inadequate work and resolutely overcome the contempt, indifference and self-judgment in our thinking,” he said.

For analysts who have long followed Chinese politics, the stern warning is a sign that there has been an internal push against Xi’s zero-Covid policy from within the party.

“This language should be seen as a direct critique of unidentified local CCP leaders who have challenged policies at the center or who have not been successful enough in implementing them,” wrote David Bandurski, co-director of the China Media Project.

“And it’s hard not to hear this phrase about condemning leaders in Shanghai specifically for ‘self-judgment,'” Badursky added.

Over the past five weeks, many Shanghai residents have used social media to call for help and vent their anger over severe food shortages and lack of access to medical care. Some protested from their windows, knocking on pots and pans and shouting in frustration, while others clashed with police and health workers on the streets – a rare scene in a country where dissent is systematically suppressed.
The severe economic downturn has also raised concerns among economists and business executives, especially given Shanghai’s role as the country’s top financial hub and a major hub for production and shipping. In April, China’s services sector, which accounts for more than half of the country’s GDP and more than 40% of its employment, shrank at the second-fastest pace in history, while manufacturing shrank.
And as Omicron spreads to other parts of China, more local governments are quickly imposing lockdowns in response to just a few cases. In Beijing, where more than 500 cases have been reported since April 20, many fear a Shanghai-type lockdown as authorities impose more and more restrictions.
A boy undergoing a Covid test in Beijing, China on May 4.

However, the latest statement from the country’s top leaders made it clear that the Chinese government is doubling its approach based on rapid lockdowns, mass testing and quarantine to suppress the highly contagious Omicron variant for the foreseeable future.

Wu Chiang, a political analyst in Beijing, said in April that the question of how the government should deal with the country’s worst outbreak since Wuhan has developed into a “path race” within the party.

“Firstly, it is a struggle over whether to choose ‘dynamic zero Covid’ or a more flexible approach to combating Covid; and secondly, it is also a struggle over whether to prioritize Covid control or growth, “Wu said. .

And with the latest statement, it is clear that Xi chose the first in both “races”, according to Wu.

Xi has put his personal stamp on China’s strategy against zero Covid, with state media often reporting that he “personally ordered and made arrangements” for the country’s fight against the pandemic.

“In this sense, zero-Covid has become an unquestionable, unquestionable policy that is closely linked to its political power – and therefore there will be no flexibility in its implementation,” Wu said.

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