This whole year has been bizarre, to say the least. There have been wars and invasions since the beginning of the year and it’s only getting more and more surprising with every world event. There have been major developments in China lately.
A rare demonstration against Chinese President Xi Jinping and his guidelines was quickly interrupted in Beijing on Thursday, just days before he is poised to earn a third term in control and influence at a major Communist party gathering. Relief from Covid lockdowns and national reforms were urged on banners that were hung on the bridge. Xi Jinping was even referred to as a dictator in one banner, which calls for his ouster.
Demonstration Against Xi Jinping
Photographs emerging on Twitter, Thursday afternoon, exhibit two banners posted on an overpass on a major road in the northwest of the Chinese city, protesting Xi’s unyielding zero-Covid policy and autocratic governance. Protests opposing Chinese President Xi Jinping and his state’s strict zero-COVID policy occurred in Beijing, just days before he is set to be given an unprecedented third term in power at a momentous gathering of the ruling Communist Party. Unfazed by the infrequent demonstrations, China ruled out a retreat of the zero-COVID policy, stating no deadline can be imposed over the limitations to fight the deadly virus, amid mounting dissatisfaction over the harm it is wreaking on jobs, businesses, the economy, and public life.
‘Say no to the Covid test and yes to eating’. ‘Yes to freedom, no to lockdown’. ‘No to lying; yes to honour’. ‘Reform, not a cultural revolution’. ‘No to a great leader but yes to voting’. One poster exhorts people to ‘be citizens, not slaves’. These have been some of the multiple slogans which can be seen on posters during the demonstrations.
Lockdowns, which have impacted tens of millions of people, have allegedly hurt the second-largest economy in the world and made travel unpredictable, according to critics. Small protests and clashes with officials have occurred in the past, in various cities where lockdowns have been imposed. Separate camera footage released on Twitter and authenticated by NBC News showed firefighters arriving at the scene, where they removed the banners and extinguished what seemed to be burning crates. It was unknown who hung the posters or when they were erected but public criticism is uncommon in China, where rights scholars have recently cautioned about the arbitrary incarceration of human rights advocates, lawyers and journalists.
China, in particular, has implemented a stringent lockdown strategy in order to limit the spread of Covid. Social media films depict people being imprisoned, not just in their homes but also in cages designed to segregate sick patients that resemble jails. People being taken up from airports and other public locations and then placed in enclosures can be seen on camera. People who, after over three years of limitations, desire to lead regular lives have been irritated by the authoritarian government’s activities.
Posts with the hashtags Beijing or Haidian were soon removed from Weibo, China’s prominent microblogging site comparable to Twitter. Several notified the AP that their Twitter accounts had been briefly banned on yet another major Chinese medium, WeChat after they shared photographs of the incident. The name of the elevated part of the road where the incident is said to have occurred, ‘Sitong Bridge’, was used in a song that was taken down from internet music services. There were about 30 uniformed cops and other security guards nearby at the scene.
Before the ruling Communist Party’s five-yearly conference, which is scheduled to begin Sunday, security is made exceedingly tight around Beijing. Xi, who took office in 2012, is anticipated to be elected for a third consecutive five-year term as the head of the party at the conclusion of the congress, solidifying his position as the nation’s most powerful individual in decades. It was originally expected for Xi to defy recent precedent at the 20th Party Congress, which kicks off and extends his reign for another term, ultimately paving the door for a lifelong rule.
The most dominant and authoritarian leader of China in decades, Xi, has conducted a broad campaign of repression to squash opposition, both within his own party and in the larger community. His severe zero-Covid policy has sparked growing public discontent, as rolling lockdowns disrupt lives and devastate the economy. Searches on China’s severely restricted internet revealed no results but some indirect allusions to the demonstration could be detected, as reported by the Reuters media outlet.
His Comments That Sparked Anger
His remarks came after sporadic demonstrations with placards against the zero-Covid policy started to surface on social media. In Beijing’s Haidian neighbourhood, which is home to colleges and IT companies, banners were hung up that read: ‘Food, not COVID test; Reform, not a Cultural Revolution.” Not lockdowns, but votes; not a leader, but votes. Not lies, but dignity. Citizens, not slaves or the like.’
Officials in China, where political protest is uncommon, were alarmed by the banners as they swiftly deployed police on multiple overpasses in Beijing to prevent the rallies from spreading and increased mobile patrolling throughout the city.
The CPC mouthpiece People’s Daily came out aggressively in favour of the zero-COVID policy, accusing those who opposed it of lying flatly. The zero-COVID policy in China, as opposed to the rest of the world, has led to fewer deaths, according to Xi, 69, who also stated this recently.
The coronavirus, which first appeared in Wuhan near the end of 2019 before spreading throughout the world, bringing death and damage, has become the Chinese economy’s major weakness, resulting in the country’s worst recession as a result of lockdowns in top cities.
Large, economically productive regions like Shanghai, Chengdu, Xian and several other top and second-tier cities have experienced or are still experiencing repeated, protracted lockdowns that have seriously disrupted people’s lives. New Hazmat suits are constantly being put into use even by occupations like the Police and health workers becoming a familiar sight throughout China. As a result of the slowdown, and job losses, public discontent is growing.
Previous reports show that China’s jobless rate increased to nearly 19%, the highest level in recent years. Although China asserts that the majority of the population has received vaccinations, officials stress that vulnerable populations, such as those over 60, are a matter of concern. People must get their Covid testing done on alternate days in practically all cities, particularly Beijing, in order to access public spaces like restaurants, transportation services or even taxis.
Travel and transportation operations within China as well as its connectivity to the rest of the globe are severely impacted by the zero-Covid policy. So much so that the vast majority of China’s infrastructure, including its formerly busiest airports, now has a deserted appearance.
To combat tiny Covid breakouts in Beijing as the congress approaches, city authorities are enforcing harsher regulations than in the rest of China. Tens of millions of inhabitants are checked every three days, with inspections for admission to all institutions regulated and mask-wearing mandates enforced.