Release of zero covid: Xi Jinping’s risky bet

While the number of infections explodes, the Chinese power hopes for a revival of growth to justify the new health policy.

by Frédéric Lemaître (Beijing, correspondent)

The year 2023 promised to be relatively quiet for Xi Jinping, renewed for a third term less than two months ago. It will not be. On the contrary. To its three official titles – Secretary General of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), President of the Republic, and President of the Central Military Commission -, the Chinese number had believed useful to add a fourth in January 2020: Commander -in -chief of the People’s War against COVID-19. However, what was to be a lightning war turned three years later in the fiasco, and perhaps even in disaster.

Sign of the embarrassment of power: Chinese journalists have, according to our information, recently received the order to no longer use the “Zero Covid” political expression. While more than half of the Beijing are contaminated and the city of Shanghai imposes, in turn, the closure of schools from Monday, December 19, in contradiction with the national directives of December 7 prohibiting any school closure in Preventive title, the Battle of China against the COVID-19 is indeed far, very far from being won.

Beating in retreat is all the more delicate since the country had already celebrated its victory. It was in September 2020 during an imposing ceremony at the Grand Palais du Peuple, which began with an exceptional standing ovation to the great leader. A few days later, the whole world was invited to learn the lesson: “The COVVI-19 is a major test of the governance capacity of the countries”, explains Xi Jinping, intervening by video before the General Assembly of the United Nations . By triumphing from COVID-19, the CCP had not only defeated a virus, it had defeated the West.

Meanwhile, vaccines have been put on the market, COVVI-19 has largely transferred, most Asian countries have abandoned zero covid policy and Shanghai’s confinement in the spring of 2022 proved to the world that The Chinese strategy was both inhuman and outdated, but whatever. Plus the XX E Congress of the PCC planned in October approached, less Xi Jinping could afford to lose face. 2>

Power doubly criticized

In front of the congressists, on October 16, he addressed a new satisfaction: “We maintained the dynamic zero covid policy and waged a popular and global war against the epidemic, so that the life and the health of our population have been protected as much as possible. “

But the wind turned. This “war” occupies only six small lines in a 72 -page speech. As if the general himself began to doubt. And in fact, on December 7, the National Health Commission announced ten measures that will change everything. In twenty-four hours, China goes from the injunction “Protect life whatever it costs” to “favor the economy at all costs”, and “the State takes care of you” to “everyone takes Self -care “. Officially, it is not the policy that has changed, it is the virus, hammers propaganda. Until December 6, it was fatal pneumonia. Since the 7th, China assimilates it to a flu, even a simple cold.

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/Media reports cited above.