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China vs COVID in 2022 | GZERO World

China vs COVID in 2022

Omicron has arrived. It's more contagious, but less severe. Some parts of the world are even looking forward to the pandemic becoming endemic.

Not China. Xi Jinping's zero-COVID strategy has worked wonders until now, but it's unlikely to survive omicron, explains Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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What We're Watching: US and Russia in Geneva, mass testing in Tianjin, a big loss for Venezuela's Maduro

US and Russia in Geneva. Senior US and Russian diplomats opened talks in Geneva on Monday, kicking off a round of discussions between Kremlin and Western officials across Europe over the next few days. Vladimir Putin wants Joe Biden and NATO leaders to redraw the security map of Europe by promising that Ukraine, Georgia, and other Russian neighbors will never join NATO and that the security alliance will not place missile system in Ukraine. That would, in effect, redivide Europe into Western and Russian spheres of influence. The Biden administration and NATO officials have said they will not allow Russia to veto NATO membership for countries that want to join. European leaders have warned the US to honor these promises, and Ukraine’s government is watching and waiting as an estimated 100,000 Russian troops remain poised near the Ukrainian border. Russia says it will pursue its aims by military means if necessary. NATO says it's ready to respond. The US says any Russian incursion into Ukraine will draw harsh sanctions against Russian and more supplies of Western weapons for Ukraine. Putin began this game of chicken, and we’ll be watching in coming weeks to see how far he wants to push it.

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What We're Watching: Chilean beekeepers, bartering in Xian, possible Turkish-Saudi détente

Standing up for the bees in Chile. Chilean beekeepers demonstrated Tuesday outside the presidential palace in Santiago, calling for the government to provide more support for the ailing industry. The protesters set up on the street dozens of hives containing 10,000 bees to draw attention to their plight, and stop police from shutting down the rally. (At least seven police officers were stung.) Beekeepers say that a decade-long “megadrought” has ruined the crops and flowers needed to sustain bees — and they want the government to guarantee honey prices or provide subsidies for producers. This might seem like an obscure agriculture story, but it’s not: bees pollinate some of Chile’s major food exports like avocados, apples and almonds, and thus help sustain an industry worth a whopping $6.46 billion in exports in 2020. Although the government says it has been supporting some communities facing water shortages, the bee industry says it’s not enough. Disgruntled beekeepers might be in luck: the leftist Gabriel Boric, who supports expanding Chile's social safety net, will be sworn in as president in March.

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China’s coming COVID crisis?

When Eurasia Group, our parent company, released its Top Risks report for 2022 on Monday, readers might have been surprised to see COVID at the very top of the list.

Yes, omicron has sent case and hospitalization numbers surging once again in dozens of countries, but the prevailing mood among many analysts has been positive. After all, this latest variant is thought to be less dangerous than previous COVID variants, and much of the developed world has been vaccinated (and boosted) with remarkably effective vaccines. Some have speculated that “Omicron is the beginning of the end” of the pandemic.

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What We're Watching: China tackles delta, Bolsonaro fans hit the streets for receipts, Nigeria's crypto conundrum

China tackles delta: China is the latest country to express serious concern over the highly contagious delta variant, after recording 300 cases in 10 days. Authorities there are trying to trace some 70,000 people who may have attended a theatre in Zhangjiajie, a city in China's Hunan province, which is now thought to have been a delta hotspot. Making matters worse, a busy domestic travel season in China saw millions recently on the move to visit friends and family just as delta infections spiked in more than a dozen provinces. Authorities have enforced new travel restrictions in many places, including in central Hunan province, where more than 1.2 million people have been told to stay in their homes for three days while authorities roll out a mass testing scheme. The outbreak has reached Beijing, too, with authorities limiting entrance to the capital to "essential travelers" only. Indeed, the outbreak has raised fresh concerns about Chinese vaccines' protection against delta, because China has not provided efficacy results for the variant.

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