Date: 24/11/2022 - Ongoing
Location: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Urumqi (Xinjiang), Zhengzhou, Xi’an, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Lanzhou, Nanjing, Shijiazhuang, Korla, Urumqi and Hotan.
Parties involved: CCP Government, The civil population of (communist) China, Republic of Government (Taiwan), Taiwanese civil population, Singapore Government.
Since January of 2020, Chinese citizens have been living under some of the harshest Covid-19 lockdown measures under what is known as the CCP’s “Zero Covid Policy.”
While small scale protests have occurred since the policy’s implementation, in the recent two weeks, a large flare up of anti-Zero Covid Protests have occurred.
On 14/11/2022 Ghangzhou erupted into a mass of protests after the city was plunged into another lockdown, which resulted in barricades being pushed down by a large crowd of people.
On 23/11/2022 Foxconn employees (famous for making Apple products) protested against their employer, which while focused on pay, quickly devolved into an all out protest against the state.
25/11/2022 Protesters gathered in the city of Urumqi after a building within the city was set ablaze, killing 10 people who were unable to leave the building due to Chinese authorities.
Vigils were organized in multiple cities on the 26/11/2022 - 28/11/2022, which have also been suppressed by Chinese security forces.
The harsh treatment of mourners, plus covid-19 protestors, have jointly started chanting for the resignation of the CCP’s president, Xi Jinping.
Analysis and implications:
There has not been a protest of this scale since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre.
Said protests occurred over a very small span of time, they pleaded for the right to openly criticize the government, better representation of non-communist parties, as well as being able to travel outside of China and apply to different jobs.
During the Tiananmen Square protest, troops armed with assault rifles and accompanied by tanks fired at the demonstrators. Estimates of the death toll vary from several hundred to several thousand, with more than thousand more wounded.
While the current protests are in many ways being compared to Tiananmen square, they differ in three main capacities:
Protestors are asking for an end to the current covid measures, which are being blamed on Xi Ping’s administration, not CCP government.
The proliferation of their occurrence is wider than that of the 1990’s (due in no small part to the proliferation of modern social media).
Chinese police are taking a softer approach to dispersing protestors; using covid-19 enforcement staff (known as the “white men”) and riot police, but notably not armed (for now).
Of note, the demographics of these protests fall outside of the conventional western notion of civil disobedience (young, marginalized, or extremists). From the OSINT footage being shared on Chinese social media (such as TikTok), the demographic spans all ages and both sexes.
The demographic facets are of concern to supply chains, as factory workers are abandoning their posts in the thousands, which could lead to breakdowns in manufacturing processes.
In addition, the effects of these protests are concerning for regional players within Asia, as any internal ripple within the CCP could have dire consequences for the states’ legacy adversaries; such as Taiwan and Singapore.
For Taiwan, a recent call for a peaceful resolution to these protests on the Chinese mainland from its newly elected government, under President Tsai Ing-wen, has aggravated the tensions between the two countries.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Singapore has cracked down on any sign of protest against the Chinese government within the city-state. Authorities have even gone to the extent of arresting a “one woman” protest in front of the Chinese embassy. This is plausibly a result of over 500 Chinese multimillion dollar companies quietly moving to the small country in order to avoid political repression/monitoring/risk from the CCP over the past 12 months.
Currently, it seems unlikely that these protests will prompt a seismic change in government within China. Instead, it is plausible that a harsh and swift response will be applied by the various governments of cities across China, and perhaps after the unrest occurs, some political figures are moved/hashed in order to quell low levels discerned within the CCP. This short term escalation in violence is likely to result in continued lockdowns and perhaps even to the extreme of martial law; which is likely to disrupt domestic supply chains in the short term.
For international players, their future is highly dependent on the level of discourse they are willing to take as a response to these events. In the case of Taiwan, if it continues showing support for the protestors on the mainland, it is likely that more hyperbolic statements will be made by the CCP’s foreign affairs. Further escalations are likely to follow, such as additional military exercises both on the mainland and in international waters surrounding Taiwan. However, it is still unlikely that such support will be used as a basis to carry out direct military action against the Island state.
For business, airlines, and NGOs working within China and its surrounding countries, it is important to keep up to date with current events, take stock of what implications these events may have, and contingency plan for crisis situations. If you require more in depth analysis or help with any of the former mentioned angles to your business, please contact Dyami at +31 30 207 2120 or through our webpage.