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China’s staunch defense of its “COVID-zero” policy has meant the country won’t join the global pivot toward living with the virus anytime soon. But authorities won’t cling to their unwavering adherence to that approach forever either.

The rigid strategy, which has pummeled the world’s second-biggest economy, disrupted supply chains and brought the lives of millions in many mainland cities to a miserable standstill, has been undergoing minor adjustments as the virus mutates. Its eventual dismantling, however, will be gradual, involving step-by-step easing rather than a sudden end to all curbs in one fell swoop, experts say.

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