Skip to content
A resident undergoes testing in Tianjin on Jan. 15.

A resident undergoes testing in Tianjin on Jan. 15.

Source: Feature China/Future Publishing/Getty Images

The Big Take

Xi Jinping’s Covid Defense Gets Weaker With Every Omicron Case

The highly transmissible new variant is playing havoc with China’s Covid Zero policies.

Updated on

More than two years into the pandemic most countries are striving to live alongside Covid, accepting the virus as part of everyday life. China, where the pathogen first emerged, exists in an alternate reality, wedded to a zero-tolerance strategy that’s growing harder to maintain.

Despite firmly closed borders and a vaccination rate near 90%, the highly transmissible omicron variant has been reported in seven out of 31 provinces and all of China’s biggest cities. Port disruptions and citywide shutdowns are increasingly common, and on Monday, the government signaled it’s bracing for more: The central bank cut its key interest rate after the economy posted its weakest quarter since the beginning of the pandemic.