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Shuli Ren

Covid Zero in China Is a Fantasy. It’s Now All About ‘Dynamic Clearing.’

With the Beijing Olympics weeks away, national leaders are now putting the onus on local officials to contain the virus.

Open-air haircuts in Xian, China, under lockdown.

Open-air haircuts in Xian, China, under lockdown.

Photographer: ROY STONE/Future Publishing via Getty Images

While the rest of the world is struggling to live with Covid, there are signs that China is determined to stick to a zero-tolerance approach to the pandemic. In late December, it locked down Xian, a city of 13 million in northwestern China. The quarantine measures were so draconian some residents ended up bartering cigarettes and tech gadgets for food. Over the weekend, Tianjin, a city of 14 million adjacent to Beijing, started testing all residents after the omicron variant surfaced.

The capital, after all, is due to host the Winter Olympics in four weeks.