China’s state media on Wednesday signaled an uncompromising rigor There is no COVID policy, and published an editorial — the fourth this week before the Communist Party congress — vowing to never “lie” about anti-virus controls.
The messages dispel widespread hopes from the Chinese public and foreign observers that the strategy might be watered down after the congress, a twice-decade policy shake-up that begins on Sunday and will lay out a blueprint for the country’s development.
China It is the last major economy still trying to stamp out COVID-19 within its borders, through a series of draconian measures that include sudden lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions.
Those numbers have kept the number of cases down, but left the country’s economy battered – causing knock-on effects globally – and reinforced its isolation from the world.
On Wednesday, the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, claimed that “laying down is inevitable,” referring to a slang term for relaxation popular among young Chinese.
He argued that easing restrictions would overwhelm the Chinese medical system and lead to more mutations of the virus.
China is currently facing its worst increase in cases nationwide since early September.
The country reported its first case of the BF.7 Omicron variant in late September, causing a spiraling outbreak in the northern region of Inner Mongolia with more than 4,000 infections as of Wednesday.
BF.7 was also detected in Shenzhen, a major manufacturing and technology hub in the southern province of Guangdong, earlier this week.
“The vaccination rate is not yet an adequate barrier against severe illness and death,” the editorial wrote.
“It is precisely because of our insistence on a COVID-free dynamic that we have protected people’s lives and health to the greatest extent possible.”
Only 86 percent of Chinese elderly people have received two doses of the COVID vaccine, according to the People’s Daily, while the most effective foreign mRNA vaccines have not yet been approved in China.
The People’s Daily article follows two consecutive editorials this week on the same topic, portraying controlling COVID as an existential struggle for China pitting its political system against the West.
“The fight against the pandemic is an experience of physical strength as well as a battle of souls,” she said in an editorial on Tuesday.
The article was trending on the social media platform Weibo on Tuesday, but its online comment sections have been disabled.
China’s state news agency Xinhua also published an editorial on Tuesday pledging not to “lay down”.
In the run-up to the opening of the conference in Beijing on Sunday, officials scrambled to stamp out outbreaks across the country, imposing new lockdowns and restrictions in major cities like Shanghai.
President Xi Jinping, who has staked his political legitimacy on a non-coronavirus policy, is expected to secure a norm-breaking third term in the event.