Xi defends China’s ‘zero Covid-19,’ asks to confront doubters

Beijing, May 6 (EFE).- Chinese President Xi Jinping said the long and harsh confinement and measures to stop Covid-19 outbreaks in Shanghai will withstand “the test of time” and urged the country’s leadership to attempts to “distort, question or challenge” this policy, state media reported Friday.

The Thursday night statements were the first made by the Chinese leader on the situation of the pandemic in the country, at a Standing Committee meeting of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo, which he himself chairs.

Xi called on party members to stand firm, amid growing dissent from residents of the large Chinese city, where 25 million people have been confined for more than a month, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

According to the president, the country will prevail thanks to his decisions to face the outbreaks produced by the contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus.

“We must be firm in overcoming thoughts of indifference and self-righteousness, and underestimating the epidemic,” said a statement released after the meeting.

Unlike most of the world that has already decided to live with the virus, China has maintained a zero-tolerance policy toward Covid-19 for two years under the argument of protecting the elderly population, which in a high percentage is not vaccinated.

However, and unlike the previous two years, the harshness of the measures in which the outbreaks have been faced this time – especially in Shanghai – has caused an unprecedented critical reaction in the population. This has generated complaints protest videos on social media, which despite censorship has been leaked to platforms abroad.

“Without a doubt, relaxation will lead to a massive number of infections, critical cases and deaths, which will seriously affect economic and social development and people’s lives and health,” he said.

Experts and analysts said they believe the measures are aimed at guaranteeing Xi’s re-election at the 20th party congress, which will take place in fall.

Along with Shanghai, Beijing is now the city that has begun to close down and apply severe containment measures in the face of outbreaks, although not on the scale of the country’s great financial center.

The capital has closed public transport routes, has asked to promote teleworking and has been carrying out massive screening for two weeks through PCR tests on its 23 million inhabitants to try to stop contagion.

The total number of active infections in mainland China amounts to 11,515, 659 of them in serious condition, according to the latest figures from the National Health Commission.

According to the institution’s accounts, since the start of the pandemic, 218,945 people have been infected in the country and 5,153 have died. EFE


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