Virus outbreaks and a property slump are forcing Xi Jinping to put his revamp of China’s economy on hold—and he faces mounting pressure to reverse last year’s policies.
The omicron variant of the coronavirus slipped through China’s border controls and is causing the largest outbreaks since Wuhan in 2020. About a quarter of China’s population lives in cities that are now under some form of lockdown. Most of Shanghai’s 25 million residents have been confined to their homes for more than a month. High-frequency indicators, such as city-to-city truck flows, suggest China’s economy is contracting, and residents in multiple cities are struggling to find food and even dying from lack of medicines.