Why did China suddenly go from draconian Covid restrictions to an "anything goes" approach? The nation where the coronavirus originated kept a lid on it for three years and an easing was expected after the October Communist Party congress. But to go from Covid protests in November to suddenly opening the floodgates and stopping the count on casualties makes for a stunning U-turn.
Will history see this moment as a painful interlude before China resumes its unstoppable path to being the world's biggest economy, or the tipping point that broke the social contract between citizens that stay out of politics and a state that provides for them? In India, Europe and the US, the pandemic also accentuated inequality, sending millions back into poverty. What about China and its promise to always better the lives of the masses?
We also ask about the global response to the return of travellers: so far, no new strains have emerged out of China, but what happens when the world's most populous nation gets back on the go?
Produced by Charles Wente, Juliette Laurain and Imen Mellaz.
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