Shanghai Covid crisis a test for Xi’s leadership

With the Covid becoming a nightmare for Shanghai residents and big corporations, China may find it too difficult to achieve its 5.5 per cent growth rate set for this year. But the maintenance of Covid fortress in Shanghai beyond the upcoming Party Congress may be too difficult for Xi. And his detractors are waiting for a chance. Certainly, there would not be any open rebellion against his leadership, but his ever-greater control over the party and leadership may slowly decline.

The road ahead for Chinese President Xi Jinping is challenging as Beijing’s “zero Covid” approach is encountering mounting challenges and Shanghai is experiencing the of the coronavirus outbreak ever in the country since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

There are credible reasons behind Xi’s constant concern about the emergency health in Shanghai at a time when almost the whole world has recovered from the pandemic. In fact, by leaps and bounds, the most powerful business capitals of the world such as New York, Tokyo, London, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Singapore, etc, are back to normal business.

But China, which has been constantly facing the wrath of the West, is seriously under strain as there is no let-up in Covid-19 severity in its powerhouse called Shanghai.

Why is the Shanghai Covid-19 breakout critical for the global economy? With the Covid-19 becoming a nightmare for Shanghai residents and big corporations, China may find it too difficult to its 5.5 per cent growth rate achieve set for this year.

This year-end, Xi’s grip over the Communist Party of China is heading for a crucial leadership reshuffle. Xi’s highly ambitious political agenda is constantly getting unmasked. Behind his steely facade, some China observers opine that confidence over the all-powerful Xi is gradually ebbing. As he is inching towards his third term by early next year, he has been tightening control over the party, military and the government.

Today, China’s worst Covid-19 disaster has come under control. But nearly a month-long lockdown was too harrowing and punishing for the city. But Beijing’s Communists have vowed to stand by their so-called “Zero Covid Strategy” despite having mounting business losses in the financial hub. The number of new infections has come down since April 22 but city officials, including the Vice-Mayor Wu Qing, have come out in public to announce that “currently our city’s epidemic prevention and control situation is steadily improving, and the epidemic has come under effective control.”

For now, community transmission has been curbed. But health experts are sounding a note of caution saying there is a chance of rebound. Therefore, it would be difficult to relax the restrictions altogether.

Finally, it can be said Xi is facing the test of time. At the moment, global power calculus is also seriously disturbed by the ongoing Ukraine war. And China has a big stake in the devastating conflict as Xi has directly backed Russia against the severe sanctions imposed by the western nations over Moscow. Putin is heavily relying on India and China. Against the backdrop of all the NATO and the EU allies marching against Russia, lending support to a war monger like Putin might seriously cost to both Delhi and Beijing in the aftermath of the war.

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