China’s protests: Why are they so important?

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Curated by Laura McDermott

Growing frustration with Beijing's zero-Covid policy has sparked mass protests. This deep dive explores the significance of this moment.

  • Frustrations with China’s zero-Covid policy have been rumbling for a while. With the rest of the world returning to a state that resembles normal life, Chinese citizens have endured harsh lockdowns.
  • Last week, at least 10 people were killed in a fire in the city of Urumqi, Xinjang. Sources say that lockdown restrictions, which have been in place for around 100 days, are to blame for the deaths.
  • The deaths sparked a wave of protests across China. The demonstrations have been both a means to express solidarity with the Urumqi people as well as local frustrations about Covid measurements.
  • Observers have described the protests as unlike anything they have seen in recent decades, with some drawing comparison to the student rallies in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989.
  • The protests have been an unfamiliar challenge to Xi Jinping and the Communist Party. Although demonstrations across the nation are far from unknown, they tend to be local and limited in reach.
  • The recent unrest has led to change, with reports saying that following the protests some Covid restrictions have been eased. Did Xi and the Party succumb to the demands of the protesters?
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Foreign Policy
The Economist
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Editor's Note

Limitations on political freedoms in exchange for stability and economic growth; this longstanding social contract between China's government and its people is shifting, The New York Times analyzes.

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