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China struggles in search for safe zero-COVID exit

Stringent rules weigh on economy but analysts warn of mass outbreaks

Shops have reopened in Guangzhou's Haizhu district after the southern Chinese city eased unpopular COVID-19 restrictions.   © AP

DALIAN, China/BEIJING -- The public backlash against China's stringent zero-COVID approach leaves Beijing with the question of how to walk back a major policy without threatening President Xi Jinping's credibility or risking a potentially deadly mass outbreak.

The government appears to be moving toward a phased exit, as a wave of nationwide demonstrations this week -- with some protesters even calling for Xi to step down -- has forced it to reconsider its approach.

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