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Why China won't relent on its 'zero COVID' strategy

A transit officer, wearing a protective gear, controls access to a tunnel in the direction of Pudong district in lockdown as a measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Shanghai on March 28, 2022. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
A transit officer, wearing a protective gear, controls access to a tunnel in the direction of Pudong district in lockdown as a measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Shanghai on March 28, 2022. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

Shanghai, population more than 25 million, has been under almost total lockdown as China continues to pursue its uncompromising COVID-zero strategy.

“It’s really eerie,” journalist Brenda Goh says. “All the shops are shut. The people you see on bikes are all in like white hazmat suits. I think everybody is pretty much on tenterhooks in Shanghai.”

Even though Shanghai’s lockdown has relaxed somewhat, after weeks in their homes, the frustration is palpable and audible.

“This is like a whack-a-mole approach. You cannot eradicate the virus,” Yanzhong Huang says. “Basically [in] just a matter of time, we would expect the next wave to come.”

Today, On Point: Why China won’t relent on its COVID zero strategy.

Guests

Don Weinland, China business and finance editor for The Economist. He and his wife have been mostly confined to their hotel for 61 days. (@donweinland)

Dr. Yangyang Cheng, fellow and research scholar at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center and a frequent columnist on Chinese politics and U.S.-China relations.

(@yangyang_cheng)

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. Director of global health studies at Seton Hall University’s School of Diplomacy and International Relations. Author of Toxic Politics. (@YanzhongHuang)

Also Featured

Judith McCool, head of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Auckland.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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