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Xi Jinping has a tough decision to make on China's COVID protests

Ending lockdowns and cracking down would both have high costs

| China
People hold up white sheets of paper as a mark of protest in Beijing on Nov. 27: Ongoing anti-lockdown demonstrations target China's top leader and his policy. (Photo retouched for security reasons)      © Reuters

Minxin Pei is professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and a nonresident senior fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The eruption of popular protests in major Chinese cities over the weekend may have been spontaneous, but it was not accidental. The public outpouring of anger and frustration in Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Urumqi and other places represents the greatest domestic political crisis for President Xi Jinping since his rise to power a decade ago.

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