BEIJING—When China’s top two leaders sought to reassure foreign executives increasingly frustrated over the country’s stringent Covid-control measures last week, Chinese leadership seemed to be speaking with two voices.

On May 18, President Xi Jinping spoke by video about economic challenges the world faces as a result of the pandemic but made little mention of China’s own economic downturn—which has been exacerbated by the costs of China’s stringent measures to combat Covid outbreaks. A day later, in an in-person meeting, Premier Li Keqiang struck a more candid and conciliatory tone, focusing his remarks largely on China’s own issues.



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