Agency: A recent outbreak of 240 coronavirus cases in China led to the lockdown of Lanzhou, a city of four million, as well as several smaller cities and parts of Beijing. Roughly 10,000 tourists are trapped in Ejin Banner, a region of Inner Mongolia, after the emergence of cases led to a lockdown.
The no-holds-barred responses are emblematic of the country’s “zero Covid” policy. China has reported fewer than 5,000 deaths since the pandemic began, a source of national pride for many.
But China is now the only country still chasing full eradication. The rest of the world is reopening, including New Zealand and Australia, which once embraced zero tolerance.
Experts have warned that the approach is unsustainable. China may find itself increasingly isolated, diplomatically and economically, at a time when global public opinion is hardening against it. And rebounds have taken a long time for other places.
What’s next: For now, the strategy appears to enjoy public support, though some officials have cautiously broached the idea of loosening restrictions; the director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently proposed opening up when the vaccination rate reaches 85 percent.
Challenges: China’s economic growth is slowing, and domestic travel fell below last year’s levels during a recent holiday.
Related: Athletes at the Winter Olympics in Beijing will be able to skip quarantine if they are fully vaccinated, the city’s organizers said, a signal that China is willing to ease some restrictions to ensure that teams make it to the Games in February.