As people in China find themselves navigating endless lockdowns, public criticism of “zero-Covid” is increasing. For the Communist Party leadership, this stunning reversal from an initial victory against Covid-19 shows just how bad things can become if you lack a long-term strategy.
After the original outbreak in Wuhan, the party defied preliminary assessments in the West to emerge victorious against Covid-19. This success, contrasted with the tragic toll of the global pandemic, became a new pillar of legitimacy for the party.
But from a geopolitical perspective, Covid-19 was devastating for China: its global image was shattered as nations blamed it for the pandemic. US-China relations deteriorated more in 2020 than in the previous three years and many foreign governments became more hawkish on China. Internally, the party might have won the epidemic, but, externally, China lost the pandemic.
This article has been previously published in the South China Morning Post. You can read the full article on SCMP’s website.