Headline RoundupDecember 8th, 2022

China Relaxes ‘Zero Covid’ Measures, Prompting Economic Hopes and Pandemic Fears

AllSides Summary

After over a week of protests, China announced it would pull back some of its strict “zero Covid” lockdown measures. The news prompted both hopes for an economic recovery and fears of a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

What’s Changing: Major changes included accelerating vaccination efforts and making it easier for people to move around — both in local communities and between provinces. China also substantially relaxed a QR code system enforcing whether people could enter public spaces. Covid-positive patients with no or mild symptoms will now be allowed to quarantine at home instead of at a government facility. 

Economic Hopes: Stocks rose worldwide in response to the news. The Wall Street Journal (Center bias) reported Thursday that China’s decision was in part motivated by a letter from the founder of Foxconn, who warned that China’s place in global supply chains was at risk.

Pandemic Fears: Since lockdowns kept many in China from getting infected, some worry that China’s population is now vulnerable to a surge in cases. Feng Zijian, former deputy director of China’s CDC, warned that the initial wave could infect 60% of China’s population — about 850 million people.

How the Media Covered It: Coverage was widespread across the spectrum in the days following the announcement. By Thursday, however, coverage in some left and center-rated outlets shifted to concerns about a potential virus surge; a headline in The Economist (Lean Left bias) said the move carried “great risk.” Coverage generally described the event as noteworthy, with Fox News (Right bias) including “BEIJING BACKS DOWN” in a headline. 

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