An editorial by state news agency Xinhua reaffirming China’s commitment to the “dynamic zero-Covid” strategy has put President Xi Jinping’s stamp on it, saying he had personally drawn up the policy and led the fight against Covid-19. The timing is significant, not least for Hong Kong. It confounds suggestions China should follow the West and live with the virus, even as the rapid nationwide spread of the Omicron variant raises questions in some minds about the strategy of mass lockdowns, testing and contact tracing. These doubts reflect a misunderstanding of “dynamic zero”, which means having the capacity to mount a swift, targeted response early in a new outbreak. Hong Kong, fighting to subdue a devastating fifth wave of infection as the Easter break approaches, is an international hub caught between a world living with the virus and the mainland policy of containing it. Pleasing everyone can seem impossible, as illustrated by the exodus of foreign talent fed up with the city’s pandemic restrictions. In another reflection, overseas flight bans are being eased while mainland-style mass testing is still not ruled out. The government should strive for a balance. Hong Kong, the Greater Bay Area and the mainland need to reach consensus on a way forward for the city. Shenzhen serves as an example of capacity to mount a decisive, targeted response, having brought contagion under control with citywide tests over a week. Hong Kong, however, is still far from establishing the conditions required to reassure the mainland, and particularly Shenzhen, about opening the border. Hong Kong leader urges residents to test themselves for Covid for 3 days in a row After the fifth wave of Covid-19, when case numbers are down to single or two digits, may be the time for the government to roll out mass testing and raise hopes for a border reopening. That said, it is not so much about testing as being prepared to do it when necessary. Hong Kong may be paying the price for not having had conditions in place to do it at the beginning of the fifth wave. It is most important now for Hong Kong to ensure it has the capacity to quickly bring another wave of infection under control, given the virus can mutate. Meanwhile, the government needs to be honest with the city and international business alike about the need to build up its capacity to adjust to “dynamic zero-Covid”. After all, opening the mainland border is critical to international investors as well as locals. The government needs to spell out the steps that must be taken to build the capacity to quickly control another outbreak – from mass testing, to hospital beds and intensive care units, to quarantine facilities. Only when everything is ready can the government confidently approach the mainland side to work out a way forward that opens up both borders. The paramount requirement is that Hong Kong must be well prepared to quickly bring an outbreak under control.