As the rest of the world learns to adapt to COVID-19, China has doubled down on its attempt to eliminate the virus. Since April 1, Shanghai’s 25 million residents have been in lockdown under the country’s zero COVID-19 policy with Beijing teetering on the edge of joining them. However, as the policy increasingly drags down growth, it is questionable whether China can maintain this approach. How badly could the repercussions of Beijing’s zero COVID-19 policy undermine the narrative of China’s superior pandemic response and the image and stature of Xi Jinping’s rule?

A new report from the GeoEconomics Center and the Global China Hub begins to answer this question. Read the newly published research here.

To launch the report, join the GeoEconomics Center and the Global China Hub on May 26 for a panel discussion on China’s zero COVID-19 policy, featuring report authors Jeremy Mark, senior fellow with the Atlantic Council GeoEconomics Center, and Michael Schuman, senior fellow with the Atlantic Council Global China Hub, as well as Lingling Wei, chief China correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, to unpack the domestic political drivers, economic repercussions, and the political, diplomatic, and human costs of zero COVID-19. This discussion will be moderated by David O. Shullman, senior director of the Global China Hub.


Jeremy Mark
Nonresident Senior Fellow, GeoEconomics Center
Atlantic Council

Michael Schuman
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Global China Hub
Atlantic Council

Lingling Wei
Chief China Correspondent
Wall Street Journal

Moderated by

David O. Shullman
Senior Director, Global China Hub
Atlantic Council


May 11, 2022

China’s faltering “zero COVID” policy: Politics in command, economy in reverse

By Jeremy Mark, Michael Schuman

Could Beijing’s doubling down on the “zero COVID” policy undermine the narrative of China’s superiority in responding to the pandemic—and the image and stature of Xi’s rule?

China Coronavirus

GeoEconomics Center

At the intersection of economics, finance, and foreign policy, the GeoEconomics Center is a translation hub with the goal of helping shape a better global economic future.

Global China Hub

The Global China Hub researches and devises allied solutions to the global challenges posed by China’s rise, leveraging and amplifying the Atlantic Council’s work on China across its fifteen other programs and centers.

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Image: A worker in a protective suit stands behind barriers sealing off a residential area under lockdown, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Shanghai, China March 29, 2022. REUTERS/Aly Song