A rare demonstration in Beijing targeted President Xi Jinping and China’s Covid restrictions, just days before a momentous Communist Party meeting.
Frustration has been building in the capital in the run-up to the congress. There has been an outpouring of rage online in response to the severe security measures and Covid limits imposed. Authorities have restricted entrance to the city, preventing numerous visitors, returning residents, and deliveries. Others had their freedom curtailed or had to be quarantined.
China’s zero covid policy
The Chinese government introduced a “zero covid policy” aimed at totalling stamping out the pandemic. Tens of millions of people have been confined to their homes in lockdowns in 60 towns and cities in recent weeks, putting political pressure on the man who has risen to become China’s most powerful person.
Other countries are moving on with the vaccines but the country adopted this policy to stamp out the pandemic totally.
Strict lockdowns, mass testing, regular scanning of health codes, and travel restrictions have prevented overcrowding in China’s hospitals. However, it has come at a cost: official young unemployment is 18.7%. It was close to 20% earlier this year.
What the citizens are saying
According to one source: “We don’t want to take the Covid test; we just want to eat. We desire freedom, not constraints. We want decency, no lies. We don’t want a Cultural Revolution; we want reform. We don’t want leaders; we want votes. We may be citizens because we are not slaves.”
Another urged citizen to “go on strike at school and work in order to oust dictator and national traitor Xi Jinping.”
A deeper frustration
Authorities are tightening down on the use of virtual private networks to breach China’s firewalls and limit internet access outside Communist Party control.
However, in order to combat tiny Covid outbreaks in Beijing as the congress approaches, municipal authorities are enforcing considerably harsher regulations than in the rest of China.
Every three days, tens of millions of residents are checked, with screenings for admission to all buildings enforced and mask-wearing laws enforced. Officials have also severely limited the number of individuals allowed into the city and have discouraged residents from leaving. It comes as ordinary Chinese are becoming weary of the “zero Covid” strategy, which has resulted in draconian lockdowns and quarantine measures long after other countries have reduced restrictions.
Several recent cases have generated public outrage, including a bus disaster that killed 27 individuals on their way to quarantine camps.