South Asia and Beyond

‘Mass Public Protests Forced China’s Mandarins To Junk Zero Covid Policy’

NEW DELHI: China’s U-turn on Covid, from zero tolerance to just zero, must rank as one of its most dramatic policy transformations. But veteran diplomats like Vijay Gokhale have probably observed similar U-turns by Beijing mandarins in the past.

In this conversation on The Gist, Gokhale who was a former ambassador in Beijing and later foreign secretary, points to the wave of public protests that would have triggered every alarm bell in the establishment. Public disorder is something the mandarins fear above all else, and rather than risk losing the mandate of heaven, they ceased lockdowns and crackdowns.

He says that what remains to be seen how China handles what comes next: the rise in Covid deaths, the hospitalisations that could put enormous pressure on the health system, public doubts about the efficacy of the indigenous vaccine and a lot else.

Tune in for more in this chat with Vijay Gokhale, former foreign secretary.

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