Protests erupt in China over ‘Zero COVID-19’ policy



INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR CHINA GROWS: Protests and vigils grow outside of the Chinese Consulate in Toronto in support of the protestors arrested in China.

On Nov. 28 2022, protests erupted from Shanghai to Beijing over China’s ‘Zero COVID-19 Policy’. The policy has come under controversy since the COVID-19 pandemic occurred in 2022 with China being the first country affected by the virus.

China’s Zero COVID-19 Policy shuts down entire cities if even one COVID-19 case is found in the city. This, however, means that citizens’ personal freedoms can be restricted at any given time.

“It’s good in theory because [COVID-19] is bad and we shouldn’t have [COVID-19], but I feel like at the same time, we [have] got to let people have freedom,” said Ben Tang ‘23.

People in China during the pandemic had a record rate of unemployment due to worldwide inflation as well as the constant lockdowns, This in turn sparked the protests due to outrage against the regimes Zero COVID-19 policies.

“It’s obviously bad … but I think that if the government [in China] is able to help those businesses like in the U.S. where they gave businesses loans…it should be [better],” said Tang.

Due to the widespread political disapproval of the regime’s policies, China, on Dec. 7,  has relented and given minor concessions by ending the widespread PCR test testing and regional lockdowns.

“This change of policy is a big step forward,” said Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management in an interview with Reuters. “I expect China will fully reopen its border no later than mid 2023.”

The protests themselves are significant due to the Chinese Communist Party placing restrictive measures on freedom of speech. Some of the protests have even turned against the economic and social idea of communism by chanting for democracy. However, this has increased police force  retaliation.

“It is virtually impossible for people in China to protest peacefully without facing harassment and prosecution,” said Hana Young, The Amnesty International Deputy Regional Director, in a statement released by the Human Rights Organization Amnesty.  “Authorities have shown zero tolerance to opposition especially in the last 10 years under President Xi, but this has not stopped the protests.”

According to the BBC, Chinese authorities have already arrested British journalist Ed Lawrence in an attempt to prevent information leaving the country. The arrests also symbolize the regime’s relentless violations of freedom of speech.

“Instead of penalizing the people, the government should listen to their calls,” said Young. “Authorities must let people express their thoughts freely and protest peacefully without fear of retaliation.”