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Commuters ride a subway train during the morning rush hour in Beijing.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: China’s open door, sticky US border policy, Iran’s “mercy” deficit, Kosovo’s creeping crisis, Nepal’s “Terrible” new top dog

China’s COVID opening worries the neighbors

China’s National Health Commission announced on Monday that beginning January 8, travelers entering China will no longer be required to quarantine for eight days. Hong Kong followed the mainland by similarly relaxing testing requirements for international arrivals. It’s the latest signal that China has abandoned its zero-COVID lockdown-intensive policy, despite evidence the virus is now sweeping through a country where millions remain unvaccinated and even larger numbers have been jabbed only with less effective Chinese-made vaccines. An announcement last week that China will change the way it counts COVID deaths had led to anxiety elsewhere that Beijing has decided it can no longer contain new infections, that the economic cost of its zero-COVID approach is too high, and that it will now hide the true number of infections and deaths across the country to weather domestic and international criticism of its handling of the virus. This worry will feed the fear that much higher rates of transmission across this country of 1.4 billion people will help the virus mutate, spawning new variants that again infect people around the world. It’s no wonder then that Japan’s government has announced that, beginning Friday, it will tighten border controls for all travelers entering Japan from China, while the US is also mulling restrictions for Chinese arrivals.

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