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December 01, 2022

China’s COVID Narrative Is Backfiring

Featuring Jacob Stokes

Source: Vox

Journalist Jen Kirby

The Chinese government wanted “to make an argument that in the capitalist United States, in democracy, they let loose because the government needed to force you back to work, and they didn’t really care about the human cost of it,” said Jacob Stokes, senior fellow with the Indo-Pacific Security Program at CNAS. “And there is an element where they really do believe that.”

But once on the zero-Covid path, China didn’t have an easy route off. As other countries invested in vaccination campaigns and began more fully reopening, China committed to keeping cases and deaths low well into 2021 and 2022, which meant locking down cities of millions and needing to re-introduce testing and quarantine measures that often seemed arbitrary and were burdensome and imposed real costs. The latest protests began after deaths from a fire in Urumqi, where residents were under lockdown, unleashed an anger over whether China’s promise — that its model protected the public — remained true.

Read the full story and more from Vox.


  • Jacob Stokes

    Senior Fellow, Indo-Pacific Security Program

    Jacob Stokes is a Senior Fellow for the Indo-Pacific Security Program at CNAS, where his work focuses on U.S.-China relations, Chinese foreign policy, East Asian security affa...