Are protests in China the beginning of the end for Xi Jinping? - The Australian - 03.12.22
The hard-heads say don’t hold your breath. But if we put it in the perspective, not only of recent Chinese history but of global history, the demonstrations look encouraging says Paul Monk for the Inquirer, The Weekend Australian.
The protests that erupted across China this week were electrifying. Then the regime flooded the streets with the People’s Armed Police and moved to stifle all expressions of public opinion, as usual. But even if the mass protests are stifled, this shouldn’t distract us from their significance.
The spontaneous demonstrations in many cities have been reminiscent of those in Hong Kong before the Chinese Communist Party’s minions imposed “order” in that once free city. The fact they were triggered by frustration at the arbitrariness of Xi Jinping’s zero-tolerance anti-Covid lockdowns is symbolic. In reality, the lockdowns are simply a manifestation of Xi’s zero-tolerance policy towards dissent or truth-telling.
One of the ironies of the situation is that the protesters, mostly young, will have grown up largely ignorant of what happened the last time there were mass protests against the party and its manner of rule in 1989. Why? Because the party has airbrushed all that out of official history.
What it has never been able to eliminate, however, is the instinctive human reaction to arbitrary and infuriating rule by incompetent and oppressive authority.
Nor has it been able to prevent reports and photos of the protests spreading around the world. Demonstrators holding up blank sheets of paper to symbolise their protest at party censorship and placards calling for the resignation of Xi and even the end of CCP rule bring back memories of the Goddess of Democracy being raised at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989.
The big question on Western minds has been: Is this the start of something big? Could these protests be the beginning of the fracturing and downfall of the CCP, and an authentic democratisation of China at long last? To which the answer from the hard-headed has been: Don’t hold your breath!
But if we put the protests in the perspective, not only of recent Chinese history but of global history, they look encouraging.
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Paul Monk is a fellow of the Institute for Law and Strategy (London and New York). He is the author of Thunder From the Silent Zone: Rethinking China (2005), a second edition of which is being prepared.
Members of the local Chinese community hold placards at a vigil in support of the protests against Beijing's zero-Covid policy taking place across China, in Melbourne.