XI’S GOTTA HAVE IT: China’s Covid Zero Could Last for Years Because It Works for Xi.

For Xi, unlike most global leaders, the political risks of opening up are still far greater than the benefits.

Missteps in early 2020 to minimize — and in some cases obscure — the initial outbreak in Wuhan undermined the social contract that underpins the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy: An acceptance of one-party rule in return for competent governance that keeps the public safe and improves overall quality of life.

To win back trust, Xi used powers largely unavailable to democratic leaders to keep the virus out and limit fatalities. And it’s worked: While questions persist about the reliability of Chinese data, the country has reported just 5,226 Covid deaths since the pandemic began, compared with more than 1 million in the US.

“Questions persist” is putting it mildly.