Chinese people are routinely criticizing the government, despite increasing censorship in the nationwide crackdown campaign. That’s according to a report by the U.S.-based think tank Freedom House.
Beijing has recently tightened control on freedom of speech, including measures to censor comments on online news stories. It also issued a raft of security laws to make public protest hazardous or technically difficult.
But in just four months, from June to September, Freedom House’s China Dissent Monitor reported 668 protests and other dissent actions in mainland China.
The report revealed that more than three-quarters of protests involved “demonstrations, marches, and obstructing roads.”
Modes of protests also vary, including “occupations, strikes, protest banners and graffiti, and notable online dissent such as large-scale hashtag campaigns and viral posts.”
It highlighted protests by hundreds of parents in Xi’an after their children got food sickness related to a tutoring company named Kid Castle. It also mentions protests by owners of half-completed apartments in Hangzhou against the developer.
And also the case of construction workers in Shenyang. These workers hung banners from a residential building to demand unpaid wages from a property developer. In many protests, police have come and suppressed them, violently.
The report said:
“Such protests are a daily occurrence in China.”
“Not only is dissent in China frequent, it’s also widespread.”
Zhou Fengsuo is the founder of the U.S.-based rights group Humanitarian China. He is also a student protest leader from the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre.
He said that the resentment against the government is seething underneath.
Zhou told Radio Free Asia:
“The anger of the people can no longer be restrained, and it feels like being on the edge of a volcano. Particularly this year; nobody has been able to escape the impact of the zero-COVID policy.”
He said that a typical symptom of that anger could be reflected in a recent protest from a Beijing traffic bridge demanding elections and Xi Jinping to resign.
The former 1989 student protest leader said:
“People used to just seek a quiet life, accepting humiliation and being silenced as the price for that.”
“But now, a lot of people who used to pretend they could just live quietly can’t pretend that any more.”