China Lockdown Protests Grow

CommentaryProtests are spreading in China due to extreme COVID-19 lockdowns, employer and bank failures, rationing of food and sanitation, and Xi Jinping’s attempt at an unprecedented third term as leader. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims that foreigners instigate the protests, which are censored. Rebellious netizens then repost them, including to the blockchain, making them impossible to delete. CCP lockdowns, which arguably have no legal basis, are costing China as much as $46 billion per month. That’s 3.1 percent of GDP. As businesses stop operating and depositing funds in banks, the financial system is starting to falter. In China’s inland Henan Province, about equidistant from Beijing and Shanghai, protests of bank depositors emerged when three local banks froze as much as $1.5 billion in customer assets without explanation. Depositors are protesting at bank branches, according to a report on May 18. China’s most prestigious site of higher education, Peking University (PKU), was its most rebellious on May 15. As COVID cases spike in the city, lockdowns are gradually imposed. A PKU protest erupted against a new metal wall meant to lock students in their dorm. While a CCP secretary implored as many as 300 protesters to disperse, some began dismantling the wall behind him to chants of “tear it down!” Chinese netizens praised the protest and likened it to tearing down the Berlin Wall. The comparison is less far-fetched when considering that PKU played prominent roles in the 1919 and 1989 student protests in Tiananmen Square. Political commentator Ji Feng responded in a comment to Radio Free Asia that the regime’s failed policies could ignite “a large-scale student protest in Beijing.” The most powerful spring protests emerged in Shanghai, where 25 million people have been under lockdown since March 2. The regime censored words from China’s own national anthem, used by protesters, and early videos of citizens from the city, who chanted “we want to eat” and “we want freedom.” In April, students at two universities in Shanghai found creative ways to protest the lack of access to food, showers, and toilets. A muted student at Tongji University displayed a sign during a Zoom call, and one at East China Normal University used black tape to write on the door of a bathroom, “I want to shower!” Video protests have gone viral. One called “Voices of April” revealed the desperation of residents without food or freedom. Videos of the Hong Kong protest song “Do You Hear the People Sing?” were shared widely. Another called “Shanghai Late Spring” showed small acts of rebellion, including citizens clashing with police, set to a British punk song with the lyrics “cheer up London, you’re already dead.” High-rise apartment complexes in Shanghai have coordinated “concerts” to protest lockdowns, including banging on pans and yelling from balconies. A group of angry Shanghai residents found rotting vegetables meant for distribution by the regime, broke into the storage area, and threw them onto the street. Dozens of residents at a time protested in the streets amid allegations of officials stealing food supplies. Perhaps in response to the growing unrest, Shanghai officials announced plans to reopen some shopping and businesses on May 16. However, officials have increased lockdowns in some neighborhoods and canceled international soccer events scheduled for summer 2023 due to the pandemic. As more than a year of future lockdowns in China look likely, residents are fleeing Shanghai, and expatriates are leaving China. Xi will seek his third term as chairman of the CCP this year. Prominent figures in China’s regime, including former premier Zhu Rongji and senior adviser Hu Wei, have been critical of Xi or his policies, including the bid for a third term, the lockdowns, the crackdown on tech companies, and support for Russia. Meanwhile, COVID cases and lockdowns are increasing in Beijing. The PKU protests spread from students at Nankai University near Beijing, who two weeks ago hung two red protest banners. Could the growing protests against Xi’s policies grow further? Could they ultimately overthrow the criminal regime in Beijing? We should all hasten that day. Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times. Follow Anders Corr has a bachelor's/master's in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He is a principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. His latest books are “The Concentration of Power: Institutionalization, Hierarchy, and Hegemony” (2021) and “Great Powers, Grand Strategies: the New Game in the South China Sea" (2018).

China Lockdown Protests Grow

Commentary

Protests are spreading in China due to extreme COVID-19 lockdowns, employer and bank failures, rationing of food and sanitation, and Xi Jinping’s attempt at an unprecedented third term as leader.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims that foreigners instigate the protests, which are censored. Rebellious netizens then repost them, including to the blockchain, making them impossible to delete.

CCP lockdowns, which arguably have no legal basis, are costing China as much as $46 billion per month. That’s 3.1 percent of GDP. As businesses stop operating and depositing funds in banks, the financial system is starting to falter.

In China’s inland Henan Province, about equidistant from Beijing and Shanghai, protests of bank depositors emerged when three local banks froze as much as $1.5 billion in customer assets without explanation. Depositors are protesting at bank branches, according to a report on May 18.

China’s most prestigious site of higher education, Peking University (PKU), was its most rebellious on May 15. As COVID cases spike in the city, lockdowns are gradually imposed. A PKU protest erupted against a new metal wall meant to lock students in their dorm. While a CCP secretary implored as many as 300 protesters to disperse, some began dismantling the wall behind him to chants of “tear it down!”

Chinese netizens praised the protest and likened it to tearing down the Berlin Wall.

The comparison is less far-fetched when considering that PKU played prominent roles in the 1919 and 1989 student protests in Tiananmen Square.

Political commentator Ji Feng responded in a comment to Radio Free Asia that the regime’s failed policies could ignite “a large-scale student protest in Beijing.”

The most powerful spring protests emerged in Shanghai, where 25 million people have been under lockdown since March 2. The regime censored words from China’s own national anthem, used by protesters, and early videos of citizens from the city, who chanted “we want to eat” and “we want freedom.”

In April, students at two universities in Shanghai found creative ways to protest the lack of access to food, showers, and toilets. A muted student at Tongji University displayed a sign during a Zoom call, and one at East China Normal University used black tape to write on the door of a bathroom, “I want to shower!”

Video protests have gone viral. One called “Voices of April” revealed the desperation of residents without food or freedom. Videos of the Hong Kong protest song “Do You Hear the People Sing?” were shared widely.

Another called “Shanghai Late Spring” showed small acts of rebellion, including citizens clashing with police, set to a British punk song with the lyrics “cheer up London, you’re already dead.”

High-rise apartment complexes in Shanghai have coordinated “concerts” to protest lockdowns, including banging on pans and yelling from balconies.

A group of angry Shanghai residents found rotting vegetables meant for distribution by the regime, broke into the storage area, and threw them onto the street. Dozens of residents at a time protested in the streets amid allegations of officials stealing food supplies.

Perhaps in response to the growing unrest, Shanghai officials announced plans to reopen some shopping and businesses on May 16. However, officials have increased lockdowns in some neighborhoods and canceled international soccer events scheduled for summer 2023 due to the pandemic.

As more than a year of future lockdowns in China look likely, residents are fleeing Shanghai, and expatriates are leaving China.

Xi will seek his third term as chairman of the CCP this year. Prominent figures in China’s regime, including former premier Zhu Rongji and senior adviser Hu Wei, have been critical of Xi or his policies, including the bid for a third term, the lockdowns, the crackdown on tech companies, and support for Russia.

Meanwhile, COVID cases and lockdowns are increasing in Beijing. The PKU protests spread from students at Nankai University near Beijing, who two weeks ago hung two red protest banners.

Could the growing protests against Xi’s policies grow further? Could they ultimately overthrow the criminal regime in Beijing? We should all hasten that day.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Anders Corr has a bachelor's/master's in political science from Yale University (2001) and a doctorate in government from Harvard University (2008). He is a principal at Corr Analytics Inc., publisher of the Journal of Political Risk, and has conducted extensive research in North America, Europe, and Asia. His latest books are “The Concentration of Power: Institutionalization, Hierarchy, and Hegemony” (2021) and “Great Powers, Grand Strategies: the New Game in the South China Sea" (2018).