- Violent protests against zero-Covid
- Eyewitness account from Wulumuqi Road protests
- Taiwan’s President Tsai loses midterms
- German military ammunition depends on China
- US bans Huawei and ZTE
- Kris Wu sentenced to 13 years in prison
- Investigation into ex-national coach
- Brussels negotiates anti-coercion instrument
- Heads: technology mediator Jeff Zhou
A fire in Urumqi sparked a political wildfire in China. In the country’s political and economic centers Beijing and Shanghai, young people openly protest against the party. This is the stuff of the CP’s nightmares. The courage of the people is admirable. Those who chant for Xi Jinping’s resignation put themselves at great risk.
Xi has made elementary mistakes that would have hardly been expected of the party just a few years ago: He has allowed the pressure in the pot to grow to an unbearable level. While the rest of the world has found its way out of the pandemic in recent months, China’s leadership doubled down on the oppression. Xi has acted on his lust for power, fighting the virus only through political control, rather than with the medical tools at hand. Despite all the propaganda, Chinese citizens have understood this difference. This also is the big difference to 2020, when acceptance for the measures was still rightfully high.
Our authors recap the dramatic events of Sunday. We also provide authentic eyewitness accounts from the flashpoint of the protests in Shanghai. But this is just the beginning. Because once the students and the young employees take to the streets and gather for protests, there can be no proper reaction from the state power. If it tolerates the protests, all the anger of the past decades comes to the surface. The youth would start to notice the cracks in the authoritarian facade. So the party will want to suppress the protests early on. In doing so, however, it will inevitably show its true colors.
What also bothers us now is the growing concern about Taiwan. Because how does a dictator restore national unity when he loses popular support? By focusing on a common enemy. An aggression against Taiwan (in CP terms then: a “special operation” in a “very own part of the country”) would turn many countries against China and could unite the Chinese people. The logic would be cynical, but that is exactly how rulers think.
Given the intensifying situation, the election results in Taiwan over the weekend come as a surprise when observed from a distance. The Kuomintang, which is said to be closer to Beijing, won. President Tsai Ing-wen even resigned from her post as leader of the Democratic-Progressive Party. David Demes’ analysis explains the implications of this.
It will be a politically exciting week.
Protest against zero Covid: The spark is ignited
Streets and squares packed with protesters in a dozen cities – there has not been this much courage against the government in China in decades. Even the resignation of the all-powerful head of state and party leader was called for by some of the protesters: In Shanghai on Wulumuqi Road in the center of the city named after the western Chinese city of Urumqi, protesters chanted, “Xi Jinping, xiatai, Gongchangdang, xiatai” – “Down with Xi Jinping, down with the Communist Party.” And, “We don’t want dictatorship. We want democracy.” Police forces initially responded with restraint, but eventually used pepper spray to break up the protests.
On Friday, ten people were killed in an apartment building fire in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. An unprecedented wave of protests against the government’s Covid policy has formed over the weekend out of the commemoration of the dead. First, people flooded social networks with such a massive number of angry comments that censors could barely keep up with deleting them. This was followed by protests in several major cities. Typical here is the confrontation of middle-class Chinese with brutal security forces in white protective suits.
Images not only came from Shanghai that astonished even long-time China observers. In Beijing, at the prestigious Tsinghua University of all places, where Xi Jinping and many other CP leaders also studied, hundreds gathered on Sunday in protest. “If we don’t speak out for fear of the dark regime, our people will be disappointed,” one student shouted through a megaphone. “As a Tsinghua student, I would regret this for the rest of my life.” The crowd responded in chorus, “Don’t be afraid! Don’t be afraid!” Student protests in Beijing bring back memories of 1989.