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Will China’s anti-lockdown protestors succeed? Xi Jinping remains wedded to Zero Covid

Don't be fooled (Janis Mackey Frayer/NBC)

Don't be fooled (Janis Mackey Frayer/NBC)


November 28, 2022   5 mins

Less than six weeks after Xi Jinping doubled down on his Zero Covid strategy, a swelling sea of discontent is finally breaking on its rocks. Outside the dining halls of two of the country’s most prestigious campuses, Peking University and Tsinghua University, small crowds of students risked their liberty over the weekend by chanting “freedom of expression, democracy and the rule of law”. According to one count, as of midday yesterday, there had been protests at more than 80 other universities, including in Shanghai and Beijing.

Few of these protests have been quite so explicit in their demands — their defining slogan is a blank piece of paper. Borrowing from the experience of dissenters in Hong Kong and Singapore, they are defiantly saying nothing at all. The act itself is the protest; the challenge to the authorities is clear: find a pretext to stop me. So far, the prize for the most obscure placard goes to the students holding up sheets of paper bearing a mathematical formula describing “the expansion of space in homogeneous and isotropic models of the universe within the context of general relativity”. It’s a Friedmann Equation, get it? “Freed man”
 These are not slogans that are going to connect with the masses.

These students have endured long lockdowns with no end to Zero Covid in sight. But for weeks their ennui has lacked a focus. We’ve seen absurdist performances, including groups crawling around on all fours and tens of thousands taking cardboard dogs for walks. Now, however, something has shifted. The deaths of at least 10 Uyghur people in a fire, apparently while locked in their apartment block in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, and violent protests by workers at the vast Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou have triggered a sense of purpose. The final straw may have been the sight of huge crowds of unmasked football supporters at the World Cup in Qatar broadcast to every television and mobile device in China, a reminder that the rest of the world has moved on from Zero Covid.

It hardly needs stating that this is a delicate moment for the Communist Party. Giving the protestors what they appear to want — a relaxation of Covid controls — will almost certainly lead to a massive wave of death across the country. The impact of many Covid variants on a poorly vaccinated population of 1.4 billion, and the medical services that sustain them, will be catastrophic.

But not giving the protestors what they want will also cause the pressure on the system to increase. Prospects for many young people in China are bleak. Official youth unemployment stands at 18%, with hundreds of thousands of Chinese parents voting with their wallets and sending their precious offspring to study abroad. As growth continues to slow at home, even those studying at elite institutions feel pessimistic.

Yet what do these young people actually want? It is not even clear that they know the answer. The fact that some protestors were singing the Internationale doesn’t make them revolutionaries. The Leftist anthem, like the blank pieces of paper, is a plausible alibi; choosing to sing the Communist Party’s official tune is merely an attempt to create a bit of political shelter. They might as well yodel: “You don’t have any reason to arrest us.”

It is unlikely that this will cut much ice with the Communist Party, however. If the Party wants to snuff out collective action, it doesn’t need to worry about legal niceties. The catch-all charge of “Picking quarrels and provoking trouble” is usually enough to quash any unauthorised activity. Arresting the few students who were shouting “down with Xi Jinping” will probably be enough to discourage the others. There is, after all, no organised protest movement — just tens of millions of pissed-off people.

Nonetheless, the Party is in a quandary. Its bureaucracy is struggling to reconcile the leadership’s contradictory instructions. Earlier this month, the Standing Committee of the Politburo ordered a new approach to controlling the virus, ostensibly allowing local authorities to have greater flexibility in imposing lockdowns. It appeared to be a “having-its-cake-and-eating-it” strategy: a “smarter” approach to Zero Covid that simultaneously kept a lid on infections while reducing control measures in lower risk localities.

The reality appears to be the reverse. The disease is spreading, more than a quarter of the total Chinese population appears to be living under some kind of lockdown and discontent is rising. At the sharp end of local administration, where the Party’s neighbourhood warden system (shequ) faces the residents they monitor and manage, confusion abounds.

Danson Cheong, China Correspondent of the Singapore-based Straits Times, yesterday described the buck-passing between the shequ in his neighbourhood, the company that manages his apartment block and the central government’s Centre for Disease Control (CDC). A positive Covid case was discovered and the shequ ordered a lockdown, but the property company refused to impose it without an order from the CDC. The CDC was backlogged with other cases and couldn’t issue the necessary paperwork, so no lockdown was imposed and the residents of the block were left free to spread the virus.

This would not have happened at the start of the pandemic, when the political pressure to impose a lockdown would have overridden any jobsworth who attempted to stand in the way. But now at least a few jobsworths feel empowered to drag their heels and avoid a conflict with the people they must face every day. A breakdown of order is becoming crystallised, but inside the bureaucracy rather than on the streets. And this will terrify the leadership.

Hidden from view, this insecurity will be driving divisions within the system, between critics of both Zero Covid and Xi Jinping himself. There will be those with axes to grind and others with wider agendas. Yet Xi hasn’t risen to the top without learning how to deal with challenges along the way. He has been ruthless in dealing with apparent plots against him, while October’s Party Congress saw him place his allies in all the key positions.

Meanwhile, outside the corridors of power, the Party has mastered the dark arts of public opinion management and social control. Its officials may have decided to allow a little release of the pressure on campuses and a few city streets in order to stabilise the overall system. By Saturday, for instance, the state media had started to challenge the narratives that fed the initial dissent over the fire in Urumqi and the protests in Zhengzhou, reporting that lockdown restrictions could soon be eased. At the same time, directives are presumably being issued to party units to step up their vigilance and “seriously” implement their instructions.

Anyone who doubts the Communist Party’s determination to remain the country’s sole political force clearly hasn’t been following events in Hong Kong, Xinjiang or anywhere else in China for the past decade. Whenever there has been a choice between control and disorder, the Party has chosen control, even at the expense of reduced economic growth and popular dissatisfaction. That is why, for all the bravery of the weekend’s anti-lockdown demonstrators, they will not succeed. Yes, the Party faces another systemic problem — but it will take more than a few photogenic protests to make them change course.


Bill Hayton is an associate fellow with the Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House. He is the author of The Invention of China, published this month by Yale University Press

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Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago

“Giving the protestors what they appear to want — a relaxation of Covid controls — will almost certainly lead to a massive wave of death across the country. The impact of many Covid variants on a poorly vaccinated population of 1.4 billion, and the medical services that sustain them, will be catastrophic.“

Straight out of the charlatan Neil Ferguson playbook. The suggestion, after years of hard, empirical, cross-jurisdictional, evidence that the kind of nutso interventions that the deluded power-drunk leaders of China’s Communist Party have imposed on their people do anything but make the most marginal difference to transmission of an airborne virus is absurd (and if you believe the Chinese Communist claim to stopped the domestic spread of covid in 2020, you will literally believe anything). We know now that they harm people, they kill people, including through social isolation, depriving them of contact with others, sunlight and fresh air, and weakening their natural immune systems. This was the case in the epidemic phase of late 2019 / 2020; but it is even more so the case now that the prevalent strains, in China as elsewhere, of a now endemic virus are much less virulent and dangerous to humans.

Virus is going to virus. Leaving people to suffer and die alone while locked up at home might be one way to manage pressure on a health system but it should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense or common decency that it is not a good one.

What this Chatham House author is doing by making such unqualified, unjustified assertions is lending credence – in a well-respected, if alternative, Western media source – to the lies told by the brutal bullies who rule China that their policies are needed to keep people safe or to keep their country functioning. I would urge him, and Unherd’s editorial team, to consider the possible ramifications of this and to get back into the real world before making unqualified, inaccurate, assertions about previously untested, and now discredited, means of disease control.

David Simpson
David Simpson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

He obviously believes lockdowns (err, Sweden) and “vaccines” (err, most of the developing world are unvaccinated) work. Assuming Xi and his cronies aren’t stupid, if we can, perhaps they have other reasons for imposing lockdowns and sustaining the zero COVID myth.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  David Simpson

The author states that relaxing draconian zero Covid rules “will almost certainly lead to a massive wave of death across the country”. I think the opposite is true. That won’t happen and the tyrants will be exposed (the example of the maskless World Cup crowds is akin to The Soviet Everyman seeing “Dallas” in the 80s and realizing the West wasn’t the hellhole his leaders were claiming while he stood in bread lines for hours in the bleak, grey cold). The big difference is the powerful saving of face so embedded in Chinese culture. Leaders would rather millions die from their idiocy than admit they were wrong – and responsible – for this global fiasco.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Of course they do.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 year ago
Reply to  David Simpson

The author states that relaxing draconian zero Covid rules “will almost certainly lead to a massive wave of death across the country”. I think the opposite is true. That won’t happen and the tyrants will be exposed (the example of the maskless World Cup crowds is akin to The Soviet Everyman seeing “Dallas” in the 80s and realizing the West wasn’t the hellhole his leaders were claiming while he stood in bread lines for hours in the bleak, grey cold). The big difference is the powerful saving of face so embedded in Chinese culture. Leaders would rather millions die from their idiocy than admit they were wrong – and responsible – for this global fiasco.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  David Simpson

Of course they do.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

“We know now that they harm people, they kill people”

Some of us always knew it, from the very beginning. But we were censored and the useful idiots believed & amplified the neo-Marxist globalist propaganda.

David Simpson
David Simpson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

He obviously believes lockdowns (err, Sweden) and “vaccines” (err, most of the developing world are unvaccinated) work. Assuming Xi and his cronies aren’t stupid, if we can, perhaps they have other reasons for imposing lockdowns and sustaining the zero COVID myth.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

“We know now that they harm people, they kill people”

Some of us always knew it, from the very beginning. But we were censored and the useful idiots believed & amplified the neo-Marxist globalist propaganda.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
1 year ago

“Giving the protestors what they appear to want — a relaxation of Covid controls — will almost certainly lead to a massive wave of death across the country. The impact of many Covid variants on a poorly vaccinated population of 1.4 billion, and the medical services that sustain them, will be catastrophic.“

Straight out of the charlatan Neil Ferguson playbook. The suggestion, after years of hard, empirical, cross-jurisdictional, evidence that the kind of nutso interventions that the deluded power-drunk leaders of China’s Communist Party have imposed on their people do anything but make the most marginal difference to transmission of an airborne virus is absurd (and if you believe the Chinese Communist claim to stopped the domestic spread of covid in 2020, you will literally believe anything). We know now that they harm people, they kill people, including through social isolation, depriving them of contact with others, sunlight and fresh air, and weakening their natural immune systems. This was the case in the epidemic phase of late 2019 / 2020; but it is even more so the case now that the prevalent strains, in China as elsewhere, of a now endemic virus are much less virulent and dangerous to humans.

Virus is going to virus. Leaving people to suffer and die alone while locked up at home might be one way to manage pressure on a health system but it should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense or common decency that it is not a good one.

What this Chatham House author is doing by making such unqualified, unjustified assertions is lending credence – in a well-respected, if alternative, Western media source – to the lies told by the brutal bullies who rule China that their policies are needed to keep people safe or to keep their country functioning. I would urge him, and Unherd’s editorial team, to consider the possible ramifications of this and to get back into the real world before making unqualified, inaccurate, assertions about previously untested, and now discredited, means of disease control.

Jonny S
Jonny S
1 year ago

Why the assumption that the end of locking everyone up will result in huge numbers of dead people. It’s ridiculous.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonny S

The party must have made a large donation to the “Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House”.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonny S

The party must have made a large donation to the “Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House”.

Jonny S
Jonny S
1 year ago

Why the assumption that the end of locking everyone up will result in huge numbers of dead people. It’s ridiculous.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

We are so blessed in the west. I couldn’t imagine living in an authoritarian state.

And in Europe we have pampered kids blocking roads and defacing art – all in the name of some death cult that wishes to destroy the very foundation of prosperity that liberalism was built on.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It’s an interesting thought, but also a type of “chicken and egg” situation with regard to prosperity and liberalism. Which truly comes first? Can one be prosperous yet unfree, in the sense of being subject to authoritarian rule? And if so, ‘prosperous’ by what definition?

Covid has wreaked havoc in the West, hugely exacerbating the faultlines that liberalism has thrown up over the course of many decades. If China thought it could get away with the disease having minimal, or certainly less impact on its economic and social wellbeing, certain chickens appear to be coming home to roost. I’ll be egging them on.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Bill Tomlinson
Bill Tomlinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

It all depends on how the “authoritarian rule” is exercised. Usually it is exercised very badly – Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin – but there are exceptions.

Fifty years ago I had the privilege of living for a while in Spain, when General Franco was in charge. By a huge margin it was the best government I ever encountered.

Winston Churchill put it more succinctly:
“Democracy is the worst from of government there is – apart from all the others” .

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Tomlinson

Has there ever been any “authoritarian rule” that was freely accepted by a people in any large society? (besides a cult) It must always be forced upon them.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

The only example I have seen is Singapore. It can in no way be described as a Western-style liberal democracy. One-party rule, use of the judicial process to crush any effective opposition, complete control of local media and other minor restrictions make it an authoritarian regime in a velvet glove.
The limits on freedoms that we take for granted are subtle, but the red lines are clear and everyone knows where they are. The people have made a pact with their rulers – rule us effectively, make us prosperous, free us from criminality, keep us secure from external threats and do not be corrupt. In return, we will forsake those marginal freedoms and toe the line. It is the ultimate nanny state and it has worked successfully for 50 years.
Compare and contrast with the chaos in our crumbling liberal democracies in the West.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Give it time. A couple more decades of neoliberal globalism and resistance to reforms on issues like immigration and industrial policy will build anti-elite sentiment to a breaking point. Then, just as in the ancient Roman Republic, the people will accept the first Julias Caesar who comes along promising to break the power of the oligarchs.

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

The only example I have seen is Singapore. It can in no way be described as a Western-style liberal democracy. One-party rule, use of the judicial process to crush any effective opposition, complete control of local media and other minor restrictions make it an authoritarian regime in a velvet glove.
The limits on freedoms that we take for granted are subtle, but the red lines are clear and everyone knows where they are. The people have made a pact with their rulers – rule us effectively, make us prosperous, free us from criminality, keep us secure from external threats and do not be corrupt. In return, we will forsake those marginal freedoms and toe the line. It is the ultimate nanny state and it has worked successfully for 50 years.
Compare and contrast with the chaos in our crumbling liberal democracies in the West.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

Give it time. A couple more decades of neoliberal globalism and resistance to reforms on issues like immigration and industrial policy will build anti-elite sentiment to a breaking point. Then, just as in the ancient Roman Republic, the people will accept the first Julias Caesar who comes along promising to break the power of the oligarchs.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Tomlinson

Indeed. This problem is so old that Plato concluded much the same. An effective autocrat who legitimately understands his nation and citizens and who then competently advances those interests can be far more effective than democratic/republican systems that generally succumb to the slow march of elite capture and end up as oppressive oligarchies. Plato said as much. Unfortunately, the key word here is EFFECTIVE. Plato had an answer for that too, concluding that those most qualified to rule (naturally philosophers like himself) were disinclined to do so because their wisdom, honesty, and virtue made them poor politicians. In other words, building a base of power large enough to control a country is a skill that requires a devious Machiavellian mind, a relentless pursuit of power, and a whole host of other skills and antisocial tendencies that have nothing to do with actual effective governance or even run contrary to it. It is rare for someone who is in a position to become an autocrat to also be an effective leader, but as you point out it does happen, however rarely. Unfortunately, for every Francisco Franco, Elizabeth I, or Frederick II, there’s probably a dozen or more Stalin/Mao/Hitler/Hussein/Louis XIV/Cromwell types. Hundreds of years from now, when this is all ancient history, it will be noted that China’s CCP managed to run a relatively effective and prosperous autocracy for several decades post Mao through effective leaders like Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao without spawning a horrible tyrant. Unfortunately, their streak ran out. Let’s hope Xi just runs China into the ground and doesn’t drag the whole world into WWIII.

Valley Forge
Valley Forge
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Tomlinson

Franco murdered thousands of political dissenters. He may have made the trains run on time, like Mussolini, but he was not a “good” authoritarian.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Valley Forge

And the US killed hundreds of thousands of Native Americans in its history despite not being remotely autocratic. That doesn’t, by itself, negate everything positive that the US accomplished during those and subsequent years. History does not lend itself to black and white morality. More recently, the US regularly kills thousands of people in military actions around the world. I’d still pick the US over China and Russia if I had to choose a global hegemon. What’s justified and what isn’t often depends on who wins. Who is ‘right’ is a matter better left to priests and philosophers. I’m sure Franco’s regime would claim they killed thousands of ‘criminals’ which is what the US government regularly claimed during the twenty or so years of the war on terror. The point is that every government that has ever existed has killed people and done things that could be considered ‘evil’, but that shouldn’t stop us from assessing their overall effectiveness from a morally neutral perspective. In that sense, Franco was an effective ruler. So was Mussolini, at first, but he made a critical mistake allying himself with Hitler, who was awful from any perspective, and participating in Hitler’s war. Franco, notably, avoided this particular blunder despite having been aided by the aforementioned dictators in the Spanish civil war.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Valley Forge

And the US killed hundreds of thousands of Native Americans in its history despite not being remotely autocratic. That doesn’t, by itself, negate everything positive that the US accomplished during those and subsequent years. History does not lend itself to black and white morality. More recently, the US regularly kills thousands of people in military actions around the world. I’d still pick the US over China and Russia if I had to choose a global hegemon. What’s justified and what isn’t often depends on who wins. Who is ‘right’ is a matter better left to priests and philosophers. I’m sure Franco’s regime would claim they killed thousands of ‘criminals’ which is what the US government regularly claimed during the twenty or so years of the war on terror. The point is that every government that has ever existed has killed people and done things that could be considered ‘evil’, but that shouldn’t stop us from assessing their overall effectiveness from a morally neutral perspective. In that sense, Franco was an effective ruler. So was Mussolini, at first, but he made a critical mistake allying himself with Hitler, who was awful from any perspective, and participating in Hitler’s war. Franco, notably, avoided this particular blunder despite having been aided by the aforementioned dictators in the Spanish civil war.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Tomlinson

Has there ever been any “authoritarian rule” that was freely accepted by a people in any large society? (besides a cult) It must always be forced upon them.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Tomlinson

Indeed. This problem is so old that Plato concluded much the same. An effective autocrat who legitimately understands his nation and citizens and who then competently advances those interests can be far more effective than democratic/republican systems that generally succumb to the slow march of elite capture and end up as oppressive oligarchies. Plato said as much. Unfortunately, the key word here is EFFECTIVE. Plato had an answer for that too, concluding that those most qualified to rule (naturally philosophers like himself) were disinclined to do so because their wisdom, honesty, and virtue made them poor politicians. In other words, building a base of power large enough to control a country is a skill that requires a devious Machiavellian mind, a relentless pursuit of power, and a whole host of other skills and antisocial tendencies that have nothing to do with actual effective governance or even run contrary to it. It is rare for someone who is in a position to become an autocrat to also be an effective leader, but as you point out it does happen, however rarely. Unfortunately, for every Francisco Franco, Elizabeth I, or Frederick II, there’s probably a dozen or more Stalin/Mao/Hitler/Hussein/Louis XIV/Cromwell types. Hundreds of years from now, when this is all ancient history, it will be noted that China’s CCP managed to run a relatively effective and prosperous autocracy for several decades post Mao through effective leaders like Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao without spawning a horrible tyrant. Unfortunately, their streak ran out. Let’s hope Xi just runs China into the ground and doesn’t drag the whole world into WWIII.

Valley Forge
Valley Forge
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Tomlinson

Franco murdered thousands of political dissenters. He may have made the trains run on time, like Mussolini, but he was not a “good” authoritarian.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

No, COVID has not wreaked havoc in the West , it was the reaction to this disease which is no more deadly than flu which has wreaked havoc.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

Excuse me, but i referred to havoc in terms of socio-economic damage. Please read more carefully (including those who upvoted your comment), it helps facilitate mature debate.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I’ve just upvoted Stoater D’s comment, and downvoted yours – because you are an arrogant fool.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

I’ve just upvoted Stoater D’s comment, and downvoted yours – because you are an arrogant fool.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Stoater D

Excuse me, but i referred to havoc in terms of socio-economic damage. Please read more carefully (including those who upvoted your comment), it helps facilitate mature debate.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Bill Tomlinson
Bill Tomlinson
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

It all depends on how the “authoritarian rule” is exercised. Usually it is exercised very badly – Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin – but there are exceptions.

Fifty years ago I had the privilege of living for a while in Spain, when General Franco was in charge. By a huge margin it was the best government I ever encountered.

Winston Churchill put it more succinctly:
“Democracy is the worst from of government there is – apart from all the others” .

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

No, COVID has not wreaked havoc in the West , it was the reaction to this disease which is no more deadly than flu which has wreaked havoc.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

As Reagan said..,
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You do live in an authoritarian state. You’re just too blinkered to have realised it yet.

Bob Moore
Bob Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

We have seen eerily similar attitudes from many Western governments during COVID.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It’s an interesting thought, but also a type of “chicken and egg” situation with regard to prosperity and liberalism. Which truly comes first? Can one be prosperous yet unfree, in the sense of being subject to authoritarian rule? And if so, ‘prosperous’ by what definition?

Covid has wreaked havoc in the West, hugely exacerbating the faultlines that liberalism has thrown up over the course of many decades. If China thought it could get away with the disease having minimal, or certainly less impact on its economic and social wellbeing, certain chickens appear to be coming home to roost. I’ll be egging them on.

Last edited 1 year ago by Steve Murray
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

As Reagan said..,
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

You do live in an authoritarian state. You’re just too blinkered to have realised it yet.

Bob Moore
Bob Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

We have seen eerily similar attitudes from many Western governments during COVID.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
1 year ago

We are so blessed in the west. I couldn’t imagine living in an authoritarian state.

And in Europe we have pampered kids blocking roads and defacing art – all in the name of some death cult that wishes to destroy the very foundation of prosperity that liberalism was built on.

Debbie Stranack
Debbie Stranack
1 year ago

Interesting article however you cannot POSSIBLY, as an educated, open minded and well researched person, still think that lifting lockdowns will ‘almost certainly lead to a massive wave of death across the country’. That is simply spreading misinformation, shame on you.

Debbie Stranack
Debbie Stranack
1 year ago

Interesting article however you cannot POSSIBLY, as an educated, open minded and well researched person, still think that lifting lockdowns will ‘almost certainly lead to a massive wave of death across the country’. That is simply spreading misinformation, shame on you.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

I appreciated this article. China is, in many ways, such an opaque society it’s hard for an outsider to judge the significance of the latest social unrest.
Yes, the Party faces another systemic problem — but it will take more than a few photogenic protests to make them change course.
So what will it take for the Party to change course? Is it even possible for the Chinese people to force such change? The lockdowns have become inhuman and I struggle to understand how even a society used to totalitarian rule continue to tolerate them.
I suppose an analogy could be made between zero-covid and Mao’s Great Leap Forward. They are/were both ideologically driven and either killed or harmed millions. The Great Leap Forward lasted about five years. I hope the Chinese people are not subjected to zero covid for that long.

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Very good summary. I think you have to bear in mind that the overall levels of education in China are not there yet with Western Europe. Therefore, ordinary people still follow authority as we did 100 years ago.

(Note: I am not saying that Chinese higher education is bad – it is probably better than ours’. But proportionately fewer people have been through this education).

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris W
John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Ordinary people still follow ‘authority’ as we still do. Especially in Canada and NZ, but the US & the UK are not far behind at all.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris W

Ordinary people still follow ‘authority’ as we still do. Especially in Canada and NZ, but the US & the UK are not far behind at all.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The ingenuity, and courage, of protestors getting a message across in these authoritarian countries is just amazing.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

“in these authoritarian countries”

Do you seriously imagine you live in a country which is *not* authoritarian?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  John Sullivan

You are kidding John?
In the last two days I’ve watched the tv news where our supposedly authoritarian police have watched and even protected climate protesters and our supposedly authoritarian border police have escorted illegal immigrants in boats to our shores.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  John Sullivan

You are kidding John?
In the last two days I’ve watched the tv news where our supposedly authoritarian police have watched and even protected climate protesters and our supposedly authoritarian border police have escorted illegal immigrants in boats to our shores.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

“in these authoritarian countries”

Do you seriously imagine you live in a country which is *not* authoritarian?

Chris W
Chris W
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Very good summary. I think you have to bear in mind that the overall levels of education in China are not there yet with Western Europe. Therefore, ordinary people still follow authority as we did 100 years ago.

(Note: I am not saying that Chinese higher education is bad – it is probably better than ours’. But proportionately fewer people have been through this education).

Last edited 1 year ago by Chris W
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  J Bryant

The ingenuity, and courage, of protestors getting a message across in these authoritarian countries is just amazing.

J Bryant
J Bryant
1 year ago

I appreciated this article. China is, in many ways, such an opaque society it’s hard for an outsider to judge the significance of the latest social unrest.
Yes, the Party faces another systemic problem — but it will take more than a few photogenic protests to make them change course.
So what will it take for the Party to change course? Is it even possible for the Chinese people to force such change? The lockdowns have become inhuman and I struggle to understand how even a society used to totalitarian rule continue to tolerate them.
I suppose an analogy could be made between zero-covid and Mao’s Great Leap Forward. They are/were both ideologically driven and either killed or harmed millions. The Great Leap Forward lasted about five years. I hope the Chinese people are not subjected to zero covid for that long.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

I trust the ‘West’ is doing everything that is humanly possible to support the burgeoning Chinese ‘middle class’ in their attempt tp overthrow the abomination that is the CCP.
This is FAR more important than supporting the Ukraine!

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Absolutely correct.

Snapper AG
Snapper AG
1 year ago

There’s absolutely nothing the West can do, short-term. Long term, we should be decoupling our economy from China, and eventually ending trade with them; you can’t do that overnight.

In Ukraine, we have the means to definitively defeat China’s puppet state. That should be our short-term priority.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Snapper AG

Spot on.

Valley Forge
Valley Forge
1 year ago
Reply to  Snapper AG

You can’t definitively defeat a nuclear power short of nuclear war. Dangerously delusional.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Valley Forge

It’s largely because idiots such as Snapper AG openly want to “definitively defeat” a sovereign state that we have the issue in Ukraine in the first place.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Valley Forge

It’s largely because idiots such as Snapper AG openly want to “definitively defeat” a sovereign state that we have the issue in Ukraine in the first place.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Snapper AG

Spot on.

Valley Forge
Valley Forge
1 year ago
Reply to  Snapper AG

You can’t definitively defeat a nuclear power short of nuclear war. Dangerously delusional.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

Yeah but supporting Ukraine indirectly as Putin destroys his country is an easy (non -escalatory) step on the way to ensuring very soon that China doesn’t have a powerful ally in Russia when the fat lady starts singing in 5 years or so.
Putin screwed up geopolitically and we need to make the most of it right now.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

If your synopsis is correct then Putin is NOT a “powerful ally”, but as the Chinese would say ‘A paper p***y Cat’.
Putin is the pawn on this cheeseboard, it’s the Queen we should be focusing on.

Personally I would advocate the strategy proposed by the late Douglas McArthur and Curtis E LeMay.

O God I forgot the US doesn’t use the term P***y Cat!
.
So how on earth do they deal with the song “What’s new P***y Cat?

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

He was a powerful ally with his supplies of energy until this year. No longer.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

He was a powerful ally with his supplies of energy until this year. No longer.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

If your synopsis is correct then Putin is NOT a “powerful ally”, but as the Chinese would say ‘A paper p***y Cat’.
Putin is the pawn on this cheeseboard, it’s the Queen we should be focusing on.

Personally I would advocate the strategy proposed by the late Douglas McArthur and Curtis E LeMay.

O God I forgot the US doesn’t use the term P***y Cat!
.
So how on earth do they deal with the song “What’s new P***y Cat?

Last edited 1 year ago by CHARLES STANHOPE
Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
1 year ago

Supporting Ukraine is much more effective in undermining Chinese power and influence (by defeating its proxy) than a vain attempt to interfere in the internal processes of China itself. But we should certainly be trying to do both.

Stoater D
Stoater D
1 year ago

Absolutely correct.

Snapper AG
Snapper AG
1 year ago

There’s absolutely nothing the West can do, short-term. Long term, we should be decoupling our economy from China, and eventually ending trade with them; you can’t do that overnight.

In Ukraine, we have the means to definitively defeat China’s puppet state. That should be our short-term priority.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 year ago

Yeah but supporting Ukraine indirectly as Putin destroys his country is an easy (non -escalatory) step on the way to ensuring very soon that China doesn’t have a powerful ally in Russia when the fat lady starts singing in 5 years or so.
Putin screwed up geopolitically and we need to make the most of it right now.

Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
1 year ago

Supporting Ukraine is much more effective in undermining Chinese power and influence (by defeating its proxy) than a vain attempt to interfere in the internal processes of China itself. But we should certainly be trying to do both.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
1 year ago

I trust the ‘West’ is doing everything that is humanly possible to support the burgeoning Chinese ‘middle class’ in their attempt tp overthrow the abomination that is the CCP.
This is FAR more important than supporting the Ukraine!

Todd Kreigh
Todd Kreigh
1 year ago

It’s no wonder that younger, healthier people are finally pushing back on the BS that has gripped the world for nearly 3 years. Good for them. The only surprise is this didn’t happen a lot sooner, and in countries that aren’t police states. People woke up to the fact the Great Barrington Declaration was correct all along, masks didn’t work, and the vaccines were swill that caused (and will continue to cause) more problems than they ever solved.
I got covid in August, after dodging it for 2 1/2 years. I’m 61. I never vaxxed (or masked). I don’t regret not doing either. At some point, we have to choose to not make covid great again and move on and quit insisting on enforcing policies that attempt to prove a negative. It’s no surprise that the more oppressive the centralized bureaucracy, the more oppressive and persistent the covid tactics have been.

Todd Kreigh
Todd Kreigh
1 year ago

It’s no wonder that younger, healthier people are finally pushing back on the BS that has gripped the world for nearly 3 years. Good for them. The only surprise is this didn’t happen a lot sooner, and in countries that aren’t police states. People woke up to the fact the Great Barrington Declaration was correct all along, masks didn’t work, and the vaccines were swill that caused (and will continue to cause) more problems than they ever solved.
I got covid in August, after dodging it for 2 1/2 years. I’m 61. I never vaxxed (or masked). I don’t regret not doing either. At some point, we have to choose to not make covid great again and move on and quit insisting on enforcing policies that attempt to prove a negative. It’s no surprise that the more oppressive the centralized bureaucracy, the more oppressive and persistent the covid tactics have been.

David Lonsdale
David Lonsdale
1 year ago

His unsubstantiated claims of a “massive wave of death across the country” do his credibility no good at all. I hope for his sake that reviewers of his books haven’t read this, but for the rest of the worlds’ sake it must be condemned.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  David Lonsdale

The party must have made a large donation to the “Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House”.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago
Reply to  David Lonsdale

The party must have made a large donation to the “Asia-Pacific Programme at Chatham House”.

David Lonsdale
David Lonsdale
1 year ago

His unsubstantiated claims of a “massive wave of death across the country” do his credibility no good at all. I hope for his sake that reviewers of his books haven’t read this, but for the rest of the worlds’ sake it must be condemned.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago

”.. the impact of poorly vaccinated people and relaxations of Covid Control 
will be catastrophic ”
Does the author mean that Sinovac is a poor vaccine or does he mean that the huge Chinese population was poorly vaccinated? Both is probably the case, but as we now know, the virus was only fatal/dangerous to the elderly or people with pre-condition. The Chinese authorities have the same access to these findings as the rest of the world. Just a look at the research of J.Ioannidis at Stanford University proves the point
It is much more likely that Xi is using Covid lockdowns as a big human experiment to find out how to control the population than the author’s naive thought, that he and his Communist chums are worried about the health impact of this flu like virus


Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

The key point being…..”The Chinese authorities have the same access…” Unfortunately, the Chinese people don’t.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
1 year ago

The key point being…..”The Chinese authorities have the same access…” Unfortunately, the Chinese people don’t.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
1 year ago

”.. the impact of poorly vaccinated people and relaxations of Covid Control 
will be catastrophic ”
Does the author mean that Sinovac is a poor vaccine or does he mean that the huge Chinese population was poorly vaccinated? Both is probably the case, but as we now know, the virus was only fatal/dangerous to the elderly or people with pre-condition. The Chinese authorities have the same access to these findings as the rest of the world. Just a look at the research of J.Ioannidis at Stanford University proves the point
It is much more likely that Xi is using Covid lockdowns as a big human experiment to find out how to control the population than the author’s naive thought, that he and his Communist chums are worried about the health impact of this flu like virus


Michael Askew
Michael Askew
1 year ago

Lockdowns have been lifted in Europe in the Americas (theye never happened in Africa) and no massive wave of death has followed. Why would it happen in China?

Lukas Nel
Lukas Nel
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Askew

They were tried in Africa, but with debatable success.

Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Askew

No massive wave of death followed the lifting of lockdowns because the virus had lost much of his strength and most of the population was vaccinated.

Lukas Nel
Lukas Nel
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Askew

They were tried in Africa, but with debatable success.

Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Askew

No massive wave of death followed the lifting of lockdowns because the virus had lost much of his strength and most of the population was vaccinated.

Michael Askew
Michael Askew
1 year ago

Lockdowns have been lifted in Europe in the Americas (theye never happened in Africa) and no massive wave of death has followed. Why would it happen in China?

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

I’ve always been impressed by the anti Chinese demonstrations in Hong Kong; the numbers and the way they went about it. I’m equally impressed by the imagination (blank sheet of paper) and the way the Chinese are currently pushing back against the CCP. Their commitment shames those so called activists in the West.

Brett H
Brett H
1 year ago

I’ve always been impressed by the anti Chinese demonstrations in Hong Kong; the numbers and the way they went about it. I’m equally impressed by the imagination (blank sheet of paper) and the way the Chinese are currently pushing back against the CCP. Their commitment shames those so called activists in the West.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
1 year ago

Could the oppressive lockdowns policies in China, amount to self harm in the long run? Is it possible that a combination of the stagnating effects of lockdowns on economic activity, the population challenges resulting from the one child policy, suppression of ethnic diversity, etc, could damage the Chinese economy as a whole, and seriously weaken the state in the future?

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

Of course it’s self destructive. We should all be thankful Xi is somewhat incompetent as many autocrats tend to be. Xi wouldn’t be the first totalitarian dictator who ended up doing irreparable damage to his country through stupid policies that ignore reality in favor of soothing his massive ego. He’d have plenty of company like Adolf, Iron Joe, Chairman Mao, etc. Had Xi been more like his immediate Chinese predecessors, he might have continued to build up China without provoking either American retaliation or domestic protest.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex Stonor

Of course it’s self destructive. We should all be thankful Xi is somewhat incompetent as many autocrats tend to be. Xi wouldn’t be the first totalitarian dictator who ended up doing irreparable damage to his country through stupid policies that ignore reality in favor of soothing his massive ego. He’d have plenty of company like Adolf, Iron Joe, Chairman Mao, etc. Had Xi been more like his immediate Chinese predecessors, he might have continued to build up China without provoking either American retaliation or domestic protest.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
1 year ago

Could the oppressive lockdowns policies in China, amount to self harm in the long run? Is it possible that a combination of the stagnating effects of lockdowns on economic activity, the population challenges resulting from the one child policy, suppression of ethnic diversity, etc, could damage the Chinese economy as a whole, and seriously weaken the state in the future?

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
1 year ago

The west insisted on lockdowns here but complains and gets hysterical about lockdowns in China. Gee, who’d have think it, makes me wonder op if these protests haven’t been manufactured, maybe a Chinese spring along with a totally uncoincidental Iranian one, all you need now is a North Korean one, a Myanmar one and a Russian one. Oh who else is a threat to America and little Rishi!

Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Andrews

I certainly like to think that we are doing our level best to dislodge all the revolting regimes you list. Their populations will be grateful to us if we are.

Andrew Watson
Andrew Watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff Andrews

I certainly like to think that we are doing our level best to dislodge all the revolting regimes you list. Their populations will be grateful to us if we are.

Jeff Andrews
Jeff Andrews
1 year ago

The west insisted on lockdowns here but complains and gets hysterical about lockdowns in China. Gee, who’d have think it, makes me wonder op if these protests haven’t been manufactured, maybe a Chinese spring along with a totally uncoincidental Iranian one, all you need now is a North Korean one, a Myanmar one and a Russian one. Oh who else is a threat to America and little Rishi!

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

This is a poorly vaccinated population with a poor vaccine. But hey if it’s no big deal unlocking, and furthermore no real comeback anyway from an emasculated population why not crack on and do it? What they worrying about? They’re creating more problems than worth it, surely?
Hmm perhaps they know something we don’t. That just perhaps we got more right in the West on how to handle the pandemic than we got wrong?
Time is going to tell.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Your post is ridiculous and deluded.

We got nothing right. We had morons ‘in charge’ (jumping to the tune of their globalist paymasters) and useful idiots who were prepared to follow any ludicrous instruction given to them by the communist liars at the BBC.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Your post is ridiculous and deluded.

We got nothing right. We had morons ‘in charge’ (jumping to the tune of their globalist paymasters) and useful idiots who were prepared to follow any ludicrous instruction given to them by the communist liars at the BBC.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

This is a poorly vaccinated population with a poor vaccine. But hey if it’s no big deal unlocking, and furthermore no real comeback anyway from an emasculated population why not crack on and do it? What they worrying about? They’re creating more problems than worth it, surely?
Hmm perhaps they know something we don’t. That just perhaps we got more right in the West on how to handle the pandemic than we got wrong?
Time is going to tell.