The Puzzles and Impact of the Chinese Covid Shock

After three years of strict, unyielding covid protocols, Xi Jinping’s government has suddenly reversed its zero-covid measures and reopened China’s borders to the world. The announcement came with little warning, shocking the public and leaving health care providers scrambling to prepare for the inevitable surge of covid cases.

What prompted such a drastic change in public health policy? What impact will this have on China, economically, socially, and politically?

On January 18, 6:00PM (PT) // January 19, 11:00AM (JT), the SVJP community examined these puzzles in the first session of the 2023 SVJP Monthly Benkyokai Series. Yves Tiberghien, professor of political science at the University of British Columbia and Phillip C. Yang, professor of medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, offered their perspectives to illuminate this abrupt policy change and its consequences.


Yves Tiberghien

Yves Tiberghien (Ph.D. Stanford University, 2002; Harvard Academy Scholar 2006; Fulbright Scholar 1996) is a Professor of Political Science, Konwakai Chair in Japanese Research, and Director of the Center for Japanese Research at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. In November 2017, he was made a Chevalier de l’ordre national du mérite by the French President.

Yves is a Distinguished Fellow at the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada and a Senior Fellow at the University of Alberta’s China Institute. He is an International Steering Committee Member at Pacific Trade and Development Conference (PAFTAD) and a visiting professor at Tokyo University, The Taipei School of Economics, and Sciences Po Paris. He has held other visiting positions at National Chengchi University (Taiwan), GRIPS (Tokyo), and the Jakarta School of Public Policy (Indonesia). 

His research focuses on the comparative political economy of East Asia and on global economic and environmental governance. His latest book is The East Asian Covid-19 Paradox. August 2021. University Press (with post-2021 updates found here).

He is working on two new books, respectively titled Up for Grabs: Disruption, Competition, and the Remaking of the Global Order and Navigating the Age of Disruption: Understanding Canada’s Options in a Shifting Global Order.  He is also leading a research project on the political economy of the twin industrial revolutions (digital/AI and green tech).

His previous books include Entrepreneurial States: Reforming Corporate Governance in France, Japan, and Korea (2007, Cornell University Press); L’Asie et le futur du monde (2012, Paris: Science Po Press); and Leadership in Global Institution-Building: Minerva’s Rule (2013, edited volume, Palgrave McMillan). In 2020, he edited an online collection of papers on Japan’s leadership in the Liberal International Order. He has published articles and book chapters on the political economy of Japan and China, global governance, global climate change politics, and the governance of agricultural biotechnology.

Dr. Tiberghien co-founded the Vision 20 initiative in 2015, a new coalition of global scholars and policy-makers aiming at providing a long-term perspective on the challenges of global economic and environmental governance. The V20 held six summits (Hangzhou, 2016, Buenos Aires 2018, Tokyo 2018, and Washington DC, 2017, 2018, 2019).

Phillip C. Yang:

Phillip C. Yang is a Professor of Medicine (Cardiovascular Medicine) at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He directs the Cardiovascular Stem Cell Laboratory (Yang Lab) and Stanford Cardiovascular MRI Program. Dr. Yang received degrees from Stanford University and Yale University School of Medicine.

Dr. Yang is a physician-scientist whose research focuses on cardiovascular regeneration. His laboratory combines stem cell biology with novel imaging technology to advance clinical implementation of induced pluripotent stem cells and their derivatives. High sensitivity and exquisite resolution enable robust evaluation of stem cell survival, proliferation, and regional cardiac function. Regenerative medicine will trigger a paradigm shift and his research provides a requisite validation of the role of stem cells. 

Dr. Yang is a Principal Investigator of the National Institute of Health (NIH) funded Cardiovascular Cell Therapy Research Network designed to conduct multi-center clinical trial on novel stem cell therapy. In addition, he leads two NIH and one California Institute of Regenerative Medicine research grants and four clinical trials. He has received several prestigious awards, including the NIH Career Development Award, NIH Career Enhancement Award in Stem Cell Biology, NIH Mid-career Award, and multiple awards from both the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology. He is a frequent guest speaker and session chair at national and international meetings.