Asia-Pacific, Climate Change, China, Coronavirus, Democracy, Populism, & Domestic Politics China’s ‘Zero Covid’ Policy is a Big Liability For Xi Jinping

April 25, 2022
By Amy E. Gadsden | Foreign Policy in Focus

There’s no shortage of issues to keep Chinese premier Xi Jinping from sleeping at night: the threat of a real estate market collapse, Chinese provinces adjusting growth targets downward because of COVID, his decision to align closely with Vladimir Putin and Russia’s barbaric attack on Ukraine, a birth rate that’s hit a 61-year low

But perhaps the greatest concern for Xi is COVID-19’s threat to his reappointment for a third term as Communist Party chairman at the 20th Party Congress expected later this year.

Natural disasters have often led to political change in China. The July 1976 Tangshan earthquake, which killed more than half a million people by some estimates, was seen by many as an indication that Mao Zedong had lost legitimacy — or the “Mandate of Heaven” — as the ruler of China. His death a few weeks later only affirmed these superstitions.

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