Protests in China: No comprehensive criticism of the system
The protests against the Covid policy in China are extraordinary. But they don’t have the strength to become dangerous to the system of rule.
There have always been protests in China – most recently under Xi Jinping. They are directed against corrupt party secretaries, chemical factories or even a sexist boss. As a rule, however, they remain locally limited.
That was different last weekend. Hundreds, possibly thousands in some cities, marched through the streets of Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and other cities, shouting slogans and holding up white sheets of paper – as an expression of the lack of freedom of expression.
The reason is the completely exaggerated Covid measures. At least in Shanghai some also called for the fall of Xi Jinping on. That too has not been the case for a long time. And the protests go through all layers. In Shanghai and Beijing they took place in wealthy districts, at the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou angry migrant workers roamed the factory premises.
Since the suppression of the democracy movement on the Tiananmen Square 33 years ago there weren’t any major protests in China at the same time. But it’s not about a revival from 1989, when hundreds of thousands gathered on Tiananmen Square.
China’s highly efficient police state thwarts opposition
For the time being, Xi Jinping and his henchmen need not fear an overthrow. Because there are serious differences from back then. On the one hand, the current protests are not organized, they have only been wired via social media. That’s enough to spark a wave of protests, but not a rebellion that could endanger those in power.
of China high-tech police state and the censors strike so efficiently and powerfully that even organizational approaches are nipped in the bud. On the other hand, there is a lack of members of the opposition who are willing to speak up for the protests and thus give them the necessary power to endanger the system. It had existed in the form of the student leaders in 1989.
And: Most of them are angry because of the government’s Covid measures. It is therefore not a comprehensive system criticism. As long as the leadership manages to socially compensate for the economic upheavals in the course of their Covid measures, the anger will not turn into a subversive mass protest.
The demonstrations are likely to subside over the next few days due to the repression. But they are not therefore useless. Xi Jinping has overdone his control mania in the wake of the pandemic. The demonstrators showed him that they don’t put up with everything. So Xi cannot do and rule as he pleases without restrictions – despite his recent coronation as autocrat at the party congress.