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Premier Li Keqiang’s warning of China’s "complicated and grave” employment situation on Saturday was particularly dire, even for someone who has sounded the alarm for months. But it was also notable another reason: It didn’t mention President Xi Jinping’s "COVID zero" strategy.

Just days earlier, the Politburo Standing Committee — on which both Xi and Li sit — warned China’s citizens not to question COVID-control policies that have locked down cities across the country, including Shanghai. That statement, by contrast, contained no mention of the economy.

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