Report on COVID protests in China
Three years since the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, the Chinese are still facing the government's wrath over strict COVID policies. Unlike other nations, where relatively low covid cases are emerging, Corona outbreak is still prominent in China. However, despite long lockdown periods and preventive restrictions floating around the nation for years, Chinese people are facing particularly rough times now. Amid the crimping economy and massive protests fuming nationwide, let us dive into the synopsis of protests and how it impacts the global economy.
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What is the COVID-19 situation in China:
Almost 40,000 new covid cases were registered on November 28, with an average of almost 30000 new cases daily.
The trend of steeply rising covid cases has been identified since the start of November, which is deadlier than the outbreak in April. On April 14 this year, the highest number of 29,387 new cases was recorded.
The government refuses to slacken the restrictions in the face of rising cases. With nationwide lockdowns and strict covid policies of the Communist Government, Chinese people have been forced to stay indoors and surrender their right to freedom.
Why are protests happening?
Despite covid being prevalent around the globe for the past three years, China refuses to bail on lockdowns. Unlike other nations, which have loosened their grip on covid related policies, the Chinese government is still on high alert. As a result, the masses' frustration and anger have been boiling over the inconvenience caused due to strict restrictions.
What deteriorated the situation was the deadly fire in Urumqi last Thursday. The fire led to the death of 10 people and left nine people injured but what led to massive protests were the incident videos which depicted the reason for the delay in the arrival of firefighters due to covid restrictions.
Urumqi, situated in Xinjiang, has been under lockdown for over 100 days and has not seen such massive riots since 2009. People took to the streets and protested to lift the lockdown; however, the Zi Xing ping-led government did not seem to provide honest answers to the masses.
According to the CNN article, the government assured the people of lifting the lockdown but did not mention a specific timeframe or action plan. This left people vexed, and the initial demurring of people turned into advancing protests to other cities.
How are protests happening:
In China, Public protests on such a large scale occur very rarely in the nation. Instead, Chinese people are known for their peaceful protests and unique way of protesting against the administration.
Dating apps and WeChat to rescue:
To combat strict firewalls of the Chinese government, protesters have turned to date apps to communicate since they are less prone to scrutiny by the government.
As per online discussions seen by Reuters, Protesters communicate via the WeChat application. However, the location and details of the protest are not mentioned and are shared in the form of a faint map snipped in an image posted online. In other cases, only the location coordinates are shared without conveying the finer details.
Plank White Paper: The symbol of protest:
From Umbrellas in Hong Kong to the Three-finger salutes in Myanmar, World has witnessed a fair share of iconic protest symbols.
This time in China, the Chinese took to the blank white paper as the symbol of protest. The protest has been seen as lifting COVID restrictions and taking a more significant meaning for people. The protests have taken the form of political reform in the nation. The White paper depicts all the "unsung feelings" which cannot be described in words.
After the government's inability to curb the public demonstrations and protests last weekend, the protests have been widespread across the nation to over 17 locations, per the CNN presentation. By the end of the weekend, mass demonstrations spread to Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Wuhan.
Demonstrations in colleges and universities have also been seen. Protests have impacted Tsinghua and Peking University and 79 other educational institutes.
Not only Chinese Students but Students of Ivy League colleges such as Harvard have been seen chanting, "Step Down, Xi Jinping". With massive youth participation, the protests are shaping political and social reforms nationwide. The protests initiated by rising Covid restrictions have now been transformed into a channel to stand up against government policies and institutions.
Protesters from China and around the nation have taken to Online networking platforms such as Twitter to support the protest. In addition, netizens have been posting a "blank square", which is analogous to the white paper, to combat the Chinese government's censorship.
Online videos with content such as "how to wipe off data from your phone", "what to do if you get detained", and "how to bypass firewall" have been gaining popularity around the internet.
How is the government reacting:
The statement released by Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission in China vows to "Crack Down any hostile forces". On the streets of China, Governmental forces conducted phone and ID checks for the people looking for any traces of protest-related content or banned apps, basically anything that relates them to mass demonstrations.
When inquired about the growing protests demanding political freedom, the foreign ministry claimed that China has always exercised Citizen rights bound to be followed within governmental jurisdiction.
The government has been censoring the posts and deleting all the protest-related content based on hate crimes.
Spamming the online hashtags of the protests with porn and obscene content to prevent widespread information leaks has also been prevalent. Netizens could not help but blame the government for such bizarre actions to curb the nationwide protest.
Chinese universities even shut down and sent students home with the hope of curbing the femes of protests in the youth.
A video depicting the protest in China https://nyti.ms/3Vxvrlx
As per the videos posted online, people were brutally jaded when they refused to end the protest. A BBC reporter who happened to record mass demonstrations was also caught in the wave and ended up in jail. He was, however, later released.
With widespread arrests and massive brutality, protesters, even in jail, are released only after biometric and fingerprint scans, as per a victim of police wrath who refuses to disclose his identity amid safety concerns.
Why Government is unwilling to lift Zero COVID policy:
"Chinese Government has no good options", said Mark Williams, chief Asia economist for Capital Economics, a research firm.
If it lifts the restrictions, Xi Zing Ping-led government faces a fair chance of another outbreak. With the Omicron variant deadlier than ever, more than 80 cities are battling rising infections. In the face of an outbreak, the already soaring economy would be unable to sustain massive causalities and widespread infections with a crippled healthcare system.
With the unemployment rate standing at 20% and economic growth below the nation's projected stats, if the soaring economy declines and collapse eventually, action continues to sustain the policy, the sos of Chinese protests on the Global Economy:
China is the second-largest economy in the world. With China controlling almost 20% of the global manufacturing system, it is undoubtedly the hub of the electronic manufacturing industry. Low labour charges and lenient governmental policies have aided in landing the label.
Amid such an active role to play in the global economy, tight covid restrictions have squeezed the economy and impacted global Trade.
One of the evident impacts of the protest has been seen on Apple with its one of the largest manufacturing plants operated by Foxconn in Zhengzhou, China. According to Bloomberg, Apple is facing a decline in business by 2.6% on Monday; This is because more than half of the iPhone demand around the world is fulfilled by China.
Ahead of the holiday season, Apple's latest iPhone14 pro has seen a massive spike in demand. However, amid poor food quality, delays in payments and strict quarantine policies, Foxconn operated plant has been unable to complete customer orders and is 6 million orders lagging. As a result, the customers who placed their orders in November face a delivery lead time of almost 37 days, as per Counterpoint Research.
Prolonged restrictions and nationwide closure of manufacturing facilities are costing china businesses. As a result, as per the National Bureau of Statistics, there has been a steep decline of 3% in the profits of the Industrial sector in China from January to October this year.
Under a soaring economy, the Top trading partner of China: the USA, with a trade business of 17.2% of total Chinese exports, might shift the business from China to other developing nations such as India.
What does the world say about Chinese protests?
When asked to comment on ongoing protests in China, John. F. Kirby, the spokesperson for the national security council of the USA, says that the people have the right to peaceful protests and should not be refrained from exercising the same.
Prime Minister of Canada- Justin Trudeau, in conversation with the reporters in Ottawa, clearly depicted the concern for Canada over protecting human rights. He, in a statement, said that Canada is closely analyzing the situation and would not refrain from intervening in case of any violation of human rights.
Blessings in Disguise:
Thanks to the long- going nationwide protests, people above the age of 80 finally got booster shots.
An analyst in Finch, Andrew Fennell, stated that it is imperative to limit the nation since the vaccination rate of older adults is not up to mark. As on November 11, the vaccination rate of older adults above the age of 80 stood at a mere 40% compared to the US, which, as of November 24, 2022, claims to have completed 100% vaccination for people above the age of 65.
As the pressure on the Chinese government grew, so did the vaccination drive for the elderly. According to CNBC, As of November 28, 2022, the vaccination rate for people above 80 has increased from 40 % to 65.3%.
Also, the Chinese protest will pose business opportunities for other nations. With China out of the picture for nations such as the USA, other developing nations such as India pose as the priority for investment.
Apple has already shifted to India for manufacturing of Apple flagship Mobile phones. The company plans to manufacture iPhones in Hosur near Bengaluru, India, in the next two years. It would open pathways to job opportunities to around 60,000 people in India, of which 6000 are tribal women!
Kudos to China; after nationwide lockdowns and a soaring economy, China quickly snowballed its way to retain the supply of manufacturing goods for export. As a result, despite the adversities, the Chinese economy will have grown by 8% by 2021.
Referring to past trends, the nation's economy is seen to bounce back quickly. As per Goldman Sachs, covid policies will loosen till April next year. However, what concerns us is that such riots and protests are rare in China. The nation's complex infrastructure and security system makes it challenging to protest. So, since the protest has gained global momentum, will it force the communist government to refine its policies, or will it be registered as another protest?
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