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The US and China After Zero-COVID

China’s decision to ease its severe pandemic restrictions, and its subsequent struggle to contain the surge of COVID-19 cases, is expected to dominate news headlines in the near future. But de-escalating US-China tensions and fostering multilateral cooperation are also crucial to solving this century’s most pressing challenges.

MADRID – China is currently experiencing a particularly turbulent period in its history. Late last month, weeks after the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) 20th Congress reaffirmed President Xi Jinping’s leadership, unprecedented protests against Xi’s zero-COVID policy erupted in the country’s major cities.

Xi’s decision to abandon the zero-COVID policy marks a radical shift in China’s pandemic-containment strategy. The CPC responded by swiftly lifting China’s severe pandemic restrictions. While official statistics do not always offer an entirely reliable picture of what is happening in China, few question the fact that a period of serious complications lies ahead regarding the containment of the virus in China.

Chinese domestic politics will likely dominate news headlines over the next few months. But China’s deferred reckoning with the pandemic must not overshadow the urgent task of preventing a direct confrontation with the United States. November’s G20 meeting in Bali – where Hindu, Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, and Christian cultures coexist peacefully – offered an ideal setting for the meeting between Xi and US President Joe Biden.