A round up of reading and twitter threads I have fond useful to understand the stakes in the wave of protests around China triggered by news of the fire-deaths in Urumqi, Xijniang. For news and images from China follow @whyyoutouzhele who is one of the most trusted sources of inside reports and footage from the protests.
Thank you for this, very informative. I did not realize some of the things that I learned here about the Chinese people and their way of protest.
Out of sheer humanitarian angst, surely, they knew Sinovac wasn't effective against the spike? They had first hand global experience:
This is really really scary stuff. For the world. I have a hard time reconciling how in the US it's "so 2020" [done and gone, as if] while anecdotally, the 2020 news cycle told us it was wickedly airborne. It was global within a few months. Either the mRNA really worked (given 68% of US is double dosed), OR......we're in a fools paradise of the moment.
Pandemics kill people. Lockdowns defer that outcome, but achieve nothing else. The choice for Xi seems to be simply “when” the wave of deaths will happen - there is no “whether”.
Adam Tooze to me more and more turns out to be an advocate of the western liberal mainstream and its deeply rotten power relations
Is a death toll of 500,000-1million really so unfathomable for the Party? Around 700,000 people die every year in China from smoking-related illnesses. What’s also clear from the data elsewhere, particularly Hong Kong, is that deaths would likely be concentrated among the over-80s. In a country with a life expectancy of 78, that is highly unlikely to trigger the kind of social instability being witnessed now. It’s not as hard a choice as is being made out. Students, workers and others disillusioned with Zero Covid are a far more potent threat.
A great book about Chinese protests is "Against the Law" by Ching Kwan Lee from 2007. It analyses protests in both China's rustbelt (north east) and its sunbelt (south coast) and identifies differences and similarities.
A striking observation is how protests have been highly targeted towards businesses and local government and, while often highly disruptive and successful, never challenge the central government and often percieve the CCP to be on their side. The change now is that the central government has found itself supporting the unpopular measures while localised entities appear reluctant. This looks to be inverting Chinese protests from lacking challenge on a macro scale, to being very dangerous to the regime.
My grandfather was worked to death in the gulag in less than twelve months. My father was arrested and transported to the Far East the following year, 1931 (denounced by an ex-girlfriend, he was 19), and subsisted in exile for the next 10 years. In 1989, my father was of the opinion that Soviet rule collapsed because the younger generation (reasonably well educated under communism) was no longer buying it. While Kuran quotes trade school opinion surveys, he fails to emphasize the key change in the "youth vote." Do the young people of China have the "throw weight" to spark social change at this time?
I do not read Chinese but I suggest that the translation of the shut down protest signs reads