Chinese Citizens’ Uprising Against Xi’s CCP has China on Edge

by | Nov 29, 2022 |

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It was an apartment fire in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang province in northwest China, that started it. The firemen came, but it took them three hours to put the fire out because the doors to the building that would have allowed them access to the fire were either blocked off or locked. This was due, witnesses said, to the zero COVID policies of the Chinese government. 

Ten people died in that fire, including Qemernisa Abdurahman, an Uyghur woman, and her four children, who, according to an NPR report, had already endured more than 100 days in lockdown. Her apartment caught fire, and they could not escape. For her, this was the ultimate tragedy in an already tragic life. Her husband and oldest son had been detained in 2017 when the state rounded up hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, an ethnic, primarily Muslim, Turkic minority, whom the CCP has targeted as a part of their campaign to reduce their numbers and place as many as a million Uyghurs in concentration camps. After his arrest, the woman never heard from either of them again. 

The growing frustration of the Chinese people over the draconian lockdowns was ignited by reports of the fire and lit a spark of fury, triggering a national revolt, unlike anything that has been seen there since the June 1989 student revolt and the resulting massacre in Tiananmen Square. The new demonstrations have been carried like a torch by the Chinese people in dozens of cities. 

This is extraordinary because China is far from a democracy, and the people of China are monitored and controlled by the Chinese government, with no room for dissent or rebellion. But even the most docile individual can reach a point of frustration and anger when the normal rules no longer apply, and the repression becomes unbearable. 

The Chinese people have been virtual prisoners for more than two years, locked down and controlled by the government in its diabolical zero-COVID policies. When they are locked down, they cannot go to work, they cannot earn money to feed their families, and they are barely allowed go out to buy food. There are many accounts of people who have died for lack of access to food or medical care during lockdowns. The evil these lockdowns represent is all the more ironic since the pandemic originated in China as an experiment at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.  

Thousands of Chinese citizens have taken to the streets of some of China’s largest cities, including Beijing, chanting “Liberate the city,” “If we die, let’s die together,” and even “Down with Xi Jinping!” and “Down with the Communist Party!” Such demonstrations have not been seen in China in many decades, and such slogans were, until now, unheard of on penalty of the harshest punishments imaginable. And in addition to the noisy demonstrations, there are also silent demonstrations as well, where hundreds of people hold up blank sheets of paper to symbolize how they have been silenced. 

Xi Jinping has reaffirmed his zero-Covid strategy and has warned China to be prepared to “strengthen our sense of hardship, adhere to the bottom-line thinking, be prepared for danger in times of peace, prepare for a rainy day, and be ready to withstand major tests of high winds and high waves.”

The question now is this: What will Xi do in the face of such open resistance to his policies? Will he repeat the tragedy of Tiananmen Square, when his predecessor Deng Xiaoping crushed massive student demonstrations for democracy, when he ordered his troops to storm the square with men and tanks, and when, as a result, an unknown but very large number of demonstrators were killed? Will Xi call on his military to put these demonstrations down? What are Xi’s choices? And what will be the outcome? 

Protesters have held up blank paper as a symbol of demands for a new start. AP

Today’s demonstrations are different from the student demonstrations of 1989. There is not one central place for demonstrations, as there was then. The demonstrations today are happening in large cities all around the country. What Xi may be facing is a war against the Chinese people that will count the casualties in the tens of thousands – or worse. The population of China is over 1.4 billion people, so the loss of thousands, even millions, may seem like an acceptable loss to Xi Jinping. But in human terms, the cost is astronomical and beyond inhuman. When the accumulated loss that his zero COVID policies have accrued is counted, although he may have thought that he has won the battle, he may be losing the war. 

His zero COVID policies demand that a city with even one case of COVID must be locked down completely, even if that city has ten million people. Where cases have been reported, then mass testing is ordered and carried out there. Schools and businesses are shuttered, and lockdowns continue until no new cases are reported. Under these conditions, there will ultimately be consequences. And there have been. 

China’s economy has been failing catastrophically since its workforce has been locked down and many companies have failed to produce their product on schedule, if at all. The import and export of goods have been slowed to a crawl because when the workforce is locked down and cannot go to work, the wheels of commerce, not only in China but around the world, grind to a near halt.

In early November, workers at the Foxconn iPhone in Zhengzhou staged a mass breakout because of rumors of COVID among the ranks and fears they would all be shut inside in another massive lockdown. The company then offered bonuses to those who would return, but violent clashes broke out when the returning workers claimed the company had reneged on its offer. The ongoing production shutdown costs Apple $1 billion weekly and an unknown loss for the Chinese government. 

And it’s not just industry. The educational system has also been badly hurt. There have been so many lost school days that many of the children who will be graduating over the next few years may be unemployable. 

In short, Xi has been imposing a policy of repression and forced isolation that will result in the failure of his greater goal, to make China the number one nation in the world, replacing the United States as an economic and political leader. He is sacrificing his country and its people for his ideology and an overblown hubris that seems to be driving him – and his country – over a cliff.

Image: Reuters

Ilana Freedman

Ilana Freedman is a veteran intelligence analyst with more than thirty years in the field. She was trained in Israel, where she lived and worked for sixteen years. After returning to the U.S., she served as CEO of Gerard Group International in Massachusetts, providing major corporations and government agencies with intelligence-led support for their homeland security programs. Her global network of specialists and field assets has provided her with an ongoing resource of critical, real-time intelligence and domain expertise. Today, Ilana is an independent consultant and author of hundreds of articles on terrorism and the geopolitical landscape. She has written four books on Islamic terrorism, and is currently working on a comprehensive book on China - past, present, and future.

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