President Xi Jinping is set to finally leave mainland China after 893 days at home, even as he still trumpets a "COVID zero" policy that has isolated the world’s No. 2 economy diplomatically amid rising geopolitical tensions.
The Chinese leader will head across the border to neighboring Hong Kong on Thursday and Friday, according to local media, for events marking 25 years of Chinese rule in the former British colony. Although China has sovereignty over Hong Kong, their border has been closed since early in the pandemic — and Xi is expected to stay overnight next door in the Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen.
Xi has halted all international travel since COVID-19 emerged, with his last trip outside the mainland — on Jan. 18, 2020, to Myanmar — coming days before the central city of Wuhan went into lockdown. Since then, he’s upheld a policy of eliminating cases with strict restrictions on movement and closed borders, as other nations open up.