Zero COVID: Mapping the Way Out

China’s “zero COVID” policies are at a crossroads, given the rising economic and political costs of continuing on the current course. This note discusses how we expect COVID management to change in China from now, and how we can monitor those changes. We do not expect a public, high-profile reversal of Beijing’s stated “dynamic zero” strategy, which could stay in place for at least the entire year, and perhaps longer. But enforcement at local levels will gradually relax, and case levels will become less reliable and relevant in guiding local officials and Beijing’s responses. The key indicators to watch are not Beijing’s policy rhetoric but the actual flows of people and goods, which are more reliable indicators of the actual state of lockdowns or restrictions—and thus policy—on the ground.

Posted May 5, 2022
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