11/27 20:02 ETHere’s a breakdown of the driving forces behind protests in China. Historically, labor and real estate have been two key issues. Earlier this year, the government’s crackdown on property prompted a boycott on mortgage payments across the country as developers struggled to finish building projects.Rebecca Choong WilkinsAsia Government & Politics Correspondent11/27 20:02 ETZibang XiaoReporter11/27 20:02 ETThe arrival of the highly infectious omicron variant has pierced China’s Covid Zero bubble. Its reliance on less effective home-grown vaccines, waning immunity over time and the lack of protection from natural infection could create a perfect storm -- which is why authorities are trying to prevent a massive outbreak. One study from Fudan University estimated that an unchecked omicron wave would cause 1.6 million deaths. Michelle CortezGlobal Health Correspondent11/27 20:02 ETProtests continued on Sunday, despite the danger and efforts of online censors to eliminate any criticism from social media. Many are posting a blank white image on social media to defy officials who are deleting content so quickly that some internet users complained nothing meaningful could be expressed at all. Zibang XiaoReporter11/27 20:02 ETThe current protests, becoming more wide-spread geographically and pushing back at more than just Covid controls, could lead to another, potentially worse exodus by investors fearful of greater social instability in the world’s second-largest economy. How Beijing and local authorities react in the coming days will be key to assessing that risk. Yanping LiBeijing Bureau Chief11/27 20:02 ETAuthorities are showing signs they are aware of how curbs are upsetting citizens. Movement restrictions imposed to trace the source of Covid or identify those infected must not exceed 24 hours “in general,” Wang Daguang, an official with Beijing’s Covid control office, said at a briefing on Sunday. The use of a “hard fence” to block fire engine access, gates of an apartment building or residential compound is “strictly banned,” he said. Fran WangChina Economy Team11/27 20:02 ETChina’s local officials, put in a bind by the new 20 measures between Covid Zero goals and avoiding excessive controls, are on edge too. An unusual public criticism by authorities in Xuzhou city went viral online after nearly 900 workers from Zhengzhou were shipped over to Xuzhou without notice.Yanping LiBeijing Bureau Chief11/27 20:02 ETBeijing Reports 3860 New Local Covid Cases for Nov. 27Yanping LiBeijing Bureau Chief11/27 20:01 ETThese protests have been a long-time coming in a country which has become less open and interconnected to the rest of the world, and where citizens have to put up with everything from tighter controls over the media and Internet to blatant displays of gender inequality. Check out my thread below: Colum MurphyAsia Government Team11/27 20:01 ETIn other words, after three years of frequent lockdowns, almost-daily Covid tests and being largely boxed in the country, the public is running out of patience. Rather than accepting official guidance and actions and hoping for the better, a tug of war is underway at grassroots levels. Yanping LiBeijing Bureau Chief11/27 20:01 ETA video of university students in Nanjing at a peaceful protest on Saturday night showed the students holding up blank white pieces of paper and chanting slogans such as “long live the people” and “rest in peace.” Adrian KennedySenior Editor, News Desk11/27 20:01 ETWe’re now seeing protests online and in the streets over rules that roil daily life and leave people at risk of being interned in quarantine camps -- or locked up at home.As Yanping points out, a key trigger was a fire on Thursday night in a high-rise in Urumqi, Xinjiang, where at least ten people reportedly died. People asked if lockdowns delayed or hampered rescue efforts.Adrian KennedySenior Editor, News Desk11/27 20:01 ETSomething has changed in recent days. A more refined (and somewhat relaxed) new 20-measure Covid playbook came in just as China sees an exponential jump in infections. That’s confusing local officials caught between whether to lock up more communities or not. A deadly Xinjiang fire last week revived public resentment over authorities’ sometimes draconian approach and online censorship that peaked during the Shanghai lockdown. And this time, more cities and age-groups are rallying.Yanping LiBeijing Bureau Chief11/27 20:01 ETFirst, a little recap of weekend events.
- Protests and vigils have spread into multiple cities in China, pushing back on stringent Covid-Zero policies since Friday.
- That was triggered by a deadly fire in Xinjiang late Thursday killing at least 10, with local residents pointing to rescue efforts being delayed because of Covid restrictions.
- In Beijing, more than 4,000 cases were reported for Saturday while the national count continued to climb, at 38,000-plus.
- Increasing signs of instability in the world’s second-largest economy are weighing on yuan and riskier assets at Monday open. Some bolstering effect may be seen from China central bank’s RRR cut late Friday, the latest effort to offset an economy sapped by Covid restrictions.
- While the protests are largely absent from state press, the People’s Daily this morning again calls for more effective implementation of the latest Covid policies so as to rapidly curb the current spread of the pandemic.
Yanping LiBeijing Bureau Chief11/27 20:01 ETGood morning. There have been rapid developments across China over the past few days, with increasing pushback against China’s Covid curbs leading to protests and vigils. We’ll recap what’s been happening and bring you realtime news, analysis and market reaction. Adrian KennedySenior Editor, News Desk
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