‘The authorities will step up control’: where next for China after protests?

Since Xi Jinping came to power a decade ago, China’s Communist party has enacted a sweeping crackdown on civil society. Independent NGOs have been shut down, journalists and human rights lawyers arrested and outspoken media tamed. Meanwhile, the government has invested heavily in a massive surveillance system to keep track of citizens’ movements and activities.

Given their emphasis on national security and stability, party leaders would have been shocked therefore by the nationwide protests that broke out on 26 November in opposition to Xi’s “zero-Covid” policy. Demonstrators demanded an end to lockdowns and mass testing and some even called for the removal of the party and Xi himself.

The government’s response was two-pronged: lockdowns were lifted in many places and other Covid restrictions eased at the same time as a national police operation was launched to detain protesters and tech companies were instructed to expand censorship of protests and curb access to virtual…

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This article was written by Verna Yu and originally published on www.theguardian.com