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Should China learn to live with COVID?

If omicron makes cases explode in China, the country's leaders will have to choose between weathering short-term or long-term pain.

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, predicts that sticking to the zero-COVID approach at all costs will hurt the Chinese and global economy. In his view, learning to live with the virus is the way to go.

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Podcast: The problem with China’s Zero COVID strategy

Listen: Xi Jinping's zero-COVID approach faces its toughest test to date with omicron. Why? Because China lacks mRNA jabs, and so few Chinese people have gotten COVID that overall protection is very low. A wave of lockdowns could disrupt the world's second-largest economy — just a month out from the Beijing Winter Olympics.

That could spell disaster for Beijing, Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, tells Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. If things get really bad, though, Huang believes China will pivot to living with the virus, especially as the cost of keeping zero COVID in the age of omicron becomes too high.

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What is China’s zero-COVID policy?


We've all heard about there being zero COVID in China. But there's more to Beijing's pandemic containment strategy, which started immediately after the initial Wuhan outbreak.

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Why a US-China war is unlikely in 2022

The US may not have its political house in order right now, but neither does China. And that reality, explains Ian Bremmer, is what will prevent any cold or hot war between the world's two most powerful nations in 2022.

China faces several problems. Its economic engine is running out of gas, its population is aging, and its debt is out of control.

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China’s pandemic playbook will fail with Omicron — Laura Yasaitis

China's zero-COVID strategy was a major success story in 2020-21. But it won't work with the new omicron variant, according to Eurasia Group healthcare consultant Laura Yasaitis.

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Ian Bremmer: Zero COVID no longer works, and China will pay a price

For Ian Bremmer, China has the strongest political governance of any major economy today. Sometime that's good, and has allowed China to become the world's second largest economy.

But there's also a downside we're going to see this year, Bremmer said during a livestream conversation to launch Eurasia Group's annual Top Risks report. China's zero-COVID policy, which worked incredibly well in 2020 to respond to the pandemic, no longer works because the virus has changed.

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What We're Watching: Indian farmers stop protesting, Evergrande on brink of default, Saudi camels get touch-ups

Indian farmers pack up their tents — for now. For over a year, tens of thousands of Indian farmers have been protesting three agriculture laws that they say would give more power to big agribusiness and reduce farmers’ incomes. (The government says they rather aim to streamline an outdated and inefficient sector.) Now, farmers’ unions say they will call off the protests — and shut down the makeshift protest camp they built on the outskirts of Delhi — after PM Narendra Modi agreed to their demands. The farmers want the government to set a minimum price for most farm produce, and withdraw criminal charges for farmers arrested during protests. Modi backing down is a big deal because agriculture is the primary source of income for nearly 60 percent of Indians, and dozens of farmers have been killed in confrontations with police over the past year. Protest leaders will meet with government officials on January 15 to assess the plan’s progress. But if the government doesn’t follow through on its promises, the farmers say they’ll go back to the picket line.

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South Korea's delicate US-China balancing act

South Korea is a close US ally, but also shares a border and does a lot of trade with China, so it's always walking a tightrope between Washington and Beijing. The South Koreans, says veteran Korea correspondent Jean Lee, are worried about growing US-China competition — but there's not much they can do about it. "We can't choose. We live next to China, we have lived next to China for millennia, but we are a staunch US ally," she explains. "I think there's no question that their loyalty lies with the United States, but it's very clear as well that so much of their financial future lies with China as well. Watch a clip of Lee's interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: The Korean Peninsula from K-Pop to Kim Jong-un

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