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Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Zero-Covid disaster destroys Xi's authoritarian dreams

Section: Daily Dispatches

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The Telegraph, London
Thursday, December 29, 2022

China’s lurch from extreme zero-Covid to extreme herd immunity is a watershed moment in the global ideological struggle of our age, an unanswerable illustration of why autocratic regimes are less successful in the end than messy liberal democracies.

Leadership cults and totalitarian media control can at times enable breath-takingly destructive policies, and it is hard to think of a policy more unhinged than suddenly exposing a "naive" population with inadequate vaccination to mass infection in mid-winter, and just before the great internal migration of Chinese New Year.

... Dispatch continues below ...


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What was the purpose of lockdown torment -- and the economic slippage that came with it -- a full 18 months after the rest of the world had reopened and moved on?  

Most regional governments are suppressing Covid data but Zhejiang province south of Shanghai, with a population the size of England, says it faces a million new cases a day. It expects the figure to double again this week. Sichuan is in the eye of the storm already.

China's National Health Commission fears that up to 37 million people a day are being infected and that 248 million caught the virus over the first 20 days of December, according to leaked but unverified minutes posted online.

To the extent that successful Covid management has been mobilised over the last three years in the beauty contest of the new Cold War, this portends a public relations disaster for China's authoritarian model. The breakdown of the Chinese hospital system cannot be hidden. ...

... For the remainder of the analysis:

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