Li Qiang, China's No.2 leader, previously overseen Shanghai's Covid response.
The city had tried to contain Covid without a full-scale lockdown.
However, when the virus continued to spread, the central government intervened, and Shanghai's approach of limited restrictions gave way to Xi Jinping's pursuit of zero Covid.
Li Qiang, who has just been appointed China's No. 2 leader, previously had a role in overseeing Shanghai's Covid response.
The city had tried to contain Covid without imposing a full-scale lockdown, by putting in place limited restrictions.
This approach helped prevent economic devastation.
However, when the virus continued to spread, the central government in Beijing intervened, and Shanghai switched to Xi Jinping's pursuit of zero Covid.
This new approach that prioritizes strict control measures and heavy-handed efforts to contain the virus aims to eliminate its spread entirely.
The New York Times suggests that this shift shows how far loyalty to the Chinese government's Covid policies can get a leader.
This approach has been criticized for its lack of transparency, and limited access for independent journalists or academic researchers.
However, other sources report a more nuanced picture.
For example, according to The Diplomat, Shanghai authorities, including Li Qiang, had established a system of efficient contact tracing and made targeted intervention measures to contain the virus early on.
The Diplomat notes that the perception that Shanghai prioritized commerce over public health was not entirely accurate.
In any case, Li Qiang's appointment as China's No. 2 leader indicates that the Chinese government values loyalty and adherence to its Covid policy.
The change in Shanghai's approach to Covid shows how the central government has consistently prioritized total control in its pandemic response, even if it means sacrificing certain regional variations or economic interests.