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There has been some relaxation in the Covid restrictions but taking these as the weakness of the CCP or of Xi would be wrong
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army
The global media is buzzing with reports and visuals of protests against the zero-Covid policy in China. Third-time President Xi Jinping is facing public anger as demonstrators poured into the streets in November 27-28 in cities including Shanghai and Beijing, criticising the policy, confronting police and even calling for Xi Jinping to step down. Students at some universities also protested. Most protesters focused their anger on restrictions that can confine families to their homes for months and have been criticised as neither scientific nor effective. Some complained the system is failing to respond to their needs.
The videos showed police using pepper spray to drive away demonstrators, and dozens were detained in police sweeps and taken away in police vans and buses. China’s internal security apparatus is known for identifying people it considers troublemakers and picking them up later when few are watching. It is common in China for dissenters to simply vanish, some contributing to China’s illegal organ trade.
It is common in China for dissenters to simply vanish, some contributing to China’s illegal organ trade
China’s zero-Covid policy is set to enter its fourth year. Beijing’s stringent measures were initially accepted for minimising deaths while other countries suffered devastating waves of infections, but that consensus has begun to fray in recent times. Measures like sealing homes and streets have been periodic but this time the collective anger was more. Surprisingly, the incidents of Covid infections continue to remain high in China. There is speculation that the US may be behind the mischief while another view is that it is because the Chinese vaccine is largely ineffective.
Western countries' hope that Xi may have to step down is sheer utopia. There has been no firing or anything like the brutal suppression during the protests at the Tiananmen Square during 1989. Notably, in the US this year alone there have been 662 incidents of mass shooting (including in schools and universities) up to November 27, 2022, in which 671 persons were shot dead and 2,616 were wounded. For China’s Communist Party (CCP) a few thousand dying is no big deal, where history shows millions of Chinese were killed during the Great Leap and in subsequent purges over the decades.
Xi has asked the PLA to be ready to win ‘local wars’ and appears intent on taking territories China illegally claims
There has been some relaxation in the Covid restrictions but taking these as the weakness of the CCP or of Xi would be wrong. In fact, this could be part of deception to show Xi has too many problems at home, to undertake any adventure. However, India needs to be extra cautious:
The actions by China clearly reflect that it is unilaterally trying to change the status quo and provoking its neighbouring nations to bring about instability in the region
Xi has asked the PLA to be ready to win ‘local wars’ and appears intent on taking territories China illegally claims. He appears particularly fixated on Ladakh (though China has illegal claims in the Central Sector also as well as entire Arunachal Pradesh in the Eastern Sector – terming latter ‘South Tibet’). This is indicated by the following:
According to analysts, Xi Jinping's ideology is "what is ours is ours and what is yours is negotiable." But the actions by China clearly reflect that it is unilaterally trying to change the status quo and provoking its neighbouring nations to bring about instability in the region. China has been strengthening its armed forces and non-military organisations through restructuring and reforms under Xi’s leadership concurrent to preparing for focused grey zone operations. Finally, Xi is a maverick who cares two hoots about the US or world opinion. He can strike without warning despite knowing that India is no pushover.