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China says autocracy works better. Covid tolls will lead people to conclude it’s right

The Party insists it has a superior approach. Fumbling democracies must restore trust before it’s too late

By Isabel Hilton  

Costfoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

On 18th November, 12 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in the People’s Republic of China, bringing the cumulative total to 86,398. More than 81,000 of those victims had recovered and 4,634, according to the official toll, had died. On the 18th, like any other day in recent months, normal life continued throughout most of the country: people went to work, ate out, went to cinemas, studied at schools and colleges, shopped and moved around, unrestricted by lockdown constraints.

By that November…

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