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China’s top leaders warned against questioning Xi Jinping’s “COVID zero” strategy, striking a more defensive tone as pressure builds to relax virus curbs and protect the economic growth that has long been a source of Communist Party strength.

The Politburo’s supreme seven-member Standing Committee pledged Thursday during a meeting led by Xi to “fight against any speech that distorts, questions or rejects our country’s COVID-control policy,” state broadcaster China Central Television said. The body reaffirmed its support for the lockdown-dependent approach, noting that China has been continuously calibrating measures since the first outbreak two years ago in Wuhan.

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