China"s government continues to lớn view the benefits of its "zero-covid" policy as outweighing the costs, and the president, Xi Jinping, has expressed unwavering tư vấn for the strategy.

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We expect the strategy khổng lồ be maintained in 2023 và potentially beyond, although its definition và related policy tools will be recalibrated.Restrictions on international travel—such as visa applications, quarantine periods and flight availability—will be relaxed in late 2022 & 2023, but they will still be restrictive compared khổng lồ before the pandemic, and will continue to lớn weigh on international tourism.

China announced in June some of the biggest changes lớn its management of covid‑19 since the pandemic began. The application process for family, work and business visas has been made easier, và quarantine time for international arrivals shortened. However, this is not a sign that trung quốc plans to abandon its zero-covid policy. We expect the strategy to lớn remain in place, even as the tactics for its delivery are adjusted.

Politics and public health considerations remain, but costs are mounting

The government continues to lớn view the benefits of the zero-covid strategy as outweighing the costs. It remains concerned about the public health & political consequences of allowing the coronavirus to lớn spread more freely. While đài loan trung quốc had fully vaccinated nearly 90% of its population by June 2022, it has struggled to lớn vaccinate the elderly, who are more vulnerable lớn covid‑19, và the vaccines used have lower efficacy than some of their international counterparts.

In addition, even two years into the pandemic, the anphukhanganchau.vn"s intensive care unit coverage remains low. In a study released in May 2022 (led by Fudan University & published in a UK-based journal, Nature), researchers found that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus could cause 1.5m deaths in đài loan trung quốc without mobility control measures & a renewed push for vaccination.

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China"s propaganda efforts have drawn a strong liên kết between zero-covid—and, by extension, its success in keeping the caseload & deaths to a minimum—and Mr Xi. This has made the policy entrenched và hard lớn reject, given the president"s strong control over the apparatus of governance. Mr Xi"s unwavering tư vấn for the strategy was on display in June, during his visits to the provinces of Hubei (where covid‑19 cases first emerged in late 2019) and Sichuan. Promoting "herd immunity", he said, would bring catastrophic consequences for the anphukhanganchau.vn. He added that the government must not put people"s lives & health in harm"s way, despite short-term setbacks khổng lồ the economy. 

Mr Xi further called on local officials lớn abandon any ideas of giving up, urging them lớn "keep the public sentiment và the society stable". Even when China"s premier và the second most senior figure in the Chinese Communist các buổi party (CCP) hierarchy, Li Keqiang, was vocal in raising economic concerns, he did not depart publicly from the zero-covid strategy.

Nonetheless, the economic costs, made obvious during the Shanghai lockdown, are growing. anphukhanganchau.vn has already revised down its forecast for GDP growth in china during 2022 lớn 4%. Zero-covid undermines China"s economy from private consumption to lớn foreign investment, & costs include significant fiscal pressure and talent flight. Beyond economic terms, pandemic fatigue is setting in among the public. In late June local truyền thông erroneously reported the CCP secretary for the Beijing municipality as saying that zero-covid would last for the next five years, sparking a brief firestorm on Chinese social media.

Zero-covid will stay, but actions speak louder than words

We expect the zero-covid strategy to remain in place in 2023—and potentially beyond—but the policy tools will be loosened over time.

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Adjustment will be gradual and more evident after the 20th national congress of the CCP later in 2022, where authorities will want to point to ongoing success in minimising cases and deaths and, in turn, vindicate China"s system of governance. 

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The top priority for local governments remains cutting off community transmission, và mobility control will therefore remain in place for the foreseeable future. This includes social distancing, indoor mask mandates, enforcing health codes at public venues and sending close contacts of covid-19 cases khổng lồ government-run quarantine facilities. anphukhanganchau.vn assumes that another variant will emerge later this year, và short-term lockdowns (as in Shenzhen & currently in Anhui) could still take place. However, existing measures should be enough khổng lồ avoid another months-long Shanghai-style lockdown.

The policy has been already adjusted to reflect the Omicron variant"s high transmissibility & short incubation period. We now estimate that 20-25% of China"s population will need khổng lồ be tested regularly to go about their lives—closer lớn the lower bound of our previous forecast—and local requirements will intensify when new cases emerge. Major cities are building coronavirus testing booths (the size of a food truck) that all residents will be able lớn reach within a 15‑minute walking distance. Conversely, quarantine time for close contacts of covid-19 cases has been halved—from 14 days to seven—as the government attempts lớn minimise the economic và social impact. We expect that inter-provincial travel will also be made easier, based on the rule change. 

Coronavirus-related visa, flight và quarantine rules will be relaxed further in late 2022 and 2023, but will not completely disappear. China"s withdrawal as the host of the Asian Cup football tournament (scheduled for June và July 2023) suggests that at least some forms of border control, especially for foreign nationals, will remain in place by the middle of next year.

Nonetheless, china relaxed business và work visa application requirements in June, và announced the biggest change to the quarantine policy for inbound overseas travellers since it closed the border in early 2020. The period of quarantine at government-run facilities has been cut khổng lồ seven days, although travellers will still need to spend another three days in home isolation. 

Hong Kong could be the bellwether of mainland China"s border control; the special administrative region cut the quarantine period for incoming travellers lớn seven days two months before mainland china did so. Hong Kong is now considering cutting quarantine time to lớn five days, with two additional days in home isolation. Mainland trung quốc may introduce similar measures should Hong Kong"s policy change go well.

Nevertheless, travel restrictions will continue lớn hinder the flow of people. This includes outbound tourism and, by extension, the economic performance of neighbouring regions that relied on Chinese outbound tourism prior khổng lồ the pandemic, such as Thailand, South Korea and Hong Kong.

China"s sort-of-exit strategy: making "zero-covid" not so "zero"

China has not indicated any exit strategy from the zero-covid approach. We previously expected that the national CCP congress would present the best opportunity to prepare the Chinese public for any change in approach, & it is still possible to envisage Mr Xi declaring at that sự kiện that the initial stage of the pandemic is over & laying out an exit strategy; however, the chance of this happening is diminishing. The government (and the president) doubled down on zero-covid by linking the policy to lớn CCP"s political legitimacy.

Nonetheless, china will probably recalibrate the definition of zero-covid in late 2022 và 2023. Although the government has emphasised the policy since the beginning of the pandemic, trung quốc has long abandoned the goal of eradicating the virut nationwide. The adoption of the "dynamic zero-covid" policy allows the government to lớn maintain its narrative while relaxing the rules in practice. This will probably go further in late 2022 và 2023. For instance, "zero-covid" could mean a lack of severe cases rather than the eradication of infections. Expect "two steps forward & one step back": the overall strategy should move towards easing, but it will not be a one-way, consistent liberalisation. Mobility control measures could be tightened briefly when the caseload rises or a new variant emerges.

The domestic development of mRNA vaccines, or the approval of imports of foreign-made vaccines, could accelerate this redefinition process. Several Chinese vaccine-makers have reported positive developments recently, though we caution against optimism that this will lead lớn a quick re‑opening. China took about a year to reach a vaccination rate of 80%, & thus even if the anphukhanganchau.vn rolls out an mRNA vaccine (even just a booster) as soon as late 2022, it will still take months to vaccinate most of the population. Nor would it dramatically change the aforementioned public health considerations, given that most vaccines lớn date could not prevent infection as the virut evolves.