(TibetanReview.net, Apr19’22) – As anger grows over harrowing lockdown conditions amid rising Covid cases, the Chinese Communist Party’s flagship newspaper has called on the nation to support President Xi Jinping’s increasingly untenable Covid Zero strategy. It shows that any shift in policy is unlikely even as lockdowns in Shanghai and elsewhere threaten to hurt the economy, noted the bloomberg.com Apr 18.
The front-page commentary Apr 18 in the People’s Daily said Xi’s strategy to snuff out the virus had proven “correct and effective” and China should be “uniting more closely around the party’s leadership with Xi Jinping as the core.” Citizens should follow the strategy “unswervingly and unrelentingly” with “earlier, faster, stricter and more practical” measures, it was cited as saying.
Calling the present moment “the most difficult critical period for epidemic prevention and control,” the People’s Daily commentary was quoted as saying China could “never let the hard-earned achievements of epidemic prevention and control be wasted.”
The party’s reassertion of strict lockdown measures came as tens of millions of people in the city of Shanghai and the northeastern province of Jilin had been barred from leaving their homes, fueling widespread criticisms of the government’s response to the highly infectious omicron variant. Residents short of groceries, medical care and patience had publicly aired their grievances in rare displays of dissent against the Communist Party, the report noted.
Nevertheless, authorities in more areas in other parts of China are heeding Xi’s call to implement stringent movement restrictions to curb the virus. Over the weekend, the western city of Xi’an came under a partial-lockdown for four days. The central city of Zhengzhou also locked down its airport district for two weeks and started mass testing in the area on Apr 18, the report said.
The People’s Daily commentary was reported to have insisted on Xi’s infallibility: “Practice over the past two years has proven that the general strategy and policy of normalized epidemic prevention and control are correct and effective.”
The daily was stated to have run a similar front-page commentary defending Xi’s Covid Zero strategy earlier this month, saying the policy was essential to saving lives and keeping the economy going.
Given the Chinese leadership’s anxiety to ensure order and stability ahead of important national and party meetings, these are indeed trying moments for President Xi who is still widely expected to get a third term in office later this year.