Since Wednesday, China has eased some COVID restrictions, including allowing some people to isolate at home instead of in concentration camps and removing testing requirements to enter most public points.
According to The Epoch Times China, on December 4, the “Hebei Communist Youth League,” a subsidy of the CCP, posted an article saying, “A few days ago, opinions on epidemic prevention and control measures in some places appeared more intensively online and offline. Through timely communication and improvement, the matter has subsided.”
It means this organization admitted that the relaxation of the blockade was a response to the nationwide resistance.
Despite all kinds of challenges, for three years, Xi Jinping’s government has always insisted that its “zero-COVID” policy will “stand up to face the test of history” and vowed to punish anyone who questioned his approach.
However, just a few days after spontaneous street protests broke out in an attempt to end this radical policy; the CCP quickly proceeded to dismantle the definition of the crisis COVID policy and refute its previous statement.
Theo Bloomberg, senior researcher Weifeng Zhong at George Mason University, said, “Politically, the biggest problem for Xi is perhaps the consequence of backing down from public demands … Now that people have seen that chanting ‘Down with Xi Jinping’ can get them what they want, we should expect more disobedience down the road.’”
According to Bloomberg, investors had expected China to ease COVID restrictions after Xi won a third term in October. However, the administration also issued new guidelines on November 11 to curb the excessive COVID restrictions.
But it is the conflicting policies that have made the enforcement authorities tighten their actions. The continuous humanitarian disasters that took place and were exposed made the public and the world’s people angry. The pressure led to rare protests in a dictator-controlled country that maintained political stability by depriving individuals of freedom and strict censorship.
Li, an advertising worker, joined Shanghai’s protests at Wulumuqi Road late last month. He said that China is “destroying itself, damaging its economy, its people—everything,”
Besides the street protests, the extreme restrictions of COVID are teaching the Chinese people how to organize themselves and be aware of their rights.
In doing so, residents will quickly share success stories on WeChat along with their strategies, such as calling the police and asking to see their official documents, as well as instructions for interpreting specific laws and regulations. They also shared letter samples urging authorities to keep COVID patients home instead of sending them to makeshift hospitals with poor conditions.
However, the Head of the National Health Commission, Liang Wannian, told a briefing on Wednesday, “This new optimization is not completely relinquishing control, but a proactive rather than reactive adjustment.”
According to Bloomberg, Xi told European Council President Charles Michel that protesters were “mainly students and teenagers” frustrated with the pandemic.
Neil Thomas, a senior analyst at Eurasia Group, said the recent protests might not much change how China is governed. However, “they caused Beijing to accelerate its pivot away from a COVID-Zero policy, showing that Chinese people have not lost all agency in their relationship with the government.”
Currently, there is no indication that the CCP will abandon the “zero-COVID” policy.