For two years, China's leadership has bragged to anyone who would listen that its authoritarian system did a better job of fighting the pandemic than the undisciplined and chaotic democracies. Pointing to the towering death toll in the United States, Beijing expressed pride that its policy of clamping down mercilessly whenever an infection was discovered, a policy called "zero covid," was working. For the most part, it did, and China's population was spared the sacrifices and misery seen elsewhere.
But now, China's dictatorship is on the ropes in its battle with the virus. Shanghai, a metropolis of 25 million people and financial powerhouse, has been thrust into total lockdown. Also, Jilin City, population 3.6 million, Changchun (9 million), Xuzhou, (9 million), Tangshan, (7.7 million) and others are keeping people indoors. This might produce another shock to China's economy and reverberate into battered global supply chains - not to mention the massive public health challenge of keeping the virus from spreading.