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Shuli Ren

Is China's No. 2 Staging a Stealth Covid-Zero Protest?

The premier’s economic warning to local officials points to concerns over the mounting costs of mass lockdowns and testing.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Photographer: Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images AsiaPac

It’s not easy being second in command. China’s Premier Li Keqiang, sidelined for years by President Xi Jinping, should know this better than anyone else.

In recent weeks, Li has re-emerged with his own voice. He has been pressing officials to stabilize an economy ravaged by draconian Covid-related lockdowns, while Xi has continued to push the zero-tolerance policy.