As protests against the authorities’ extreme COVID control policy are mushrooming throughout China, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been attempting to douse the fire with what appears to be both carrots and sticks. Blank sheets of paper have become a symbol of resistance among those protesting Beijing’s COVID lockdown policies. They are showing up at protests across the nation. In a nation where a protest message could get a person jailed, opponents of the Chinese regime are innovating by using a a blank page to call for change. Thus, the blank sheet of paper has become a symbol of resistance
The CCP issued a tough message through the Political and Legal Affairs Committee (PLAC), the top CCP organ in charge of domestic security, and through the judicial system, with a meeting on November 28 to announce it would “resolutely crack down on the infiltration and sabotage activities of hostile forces, and resolutely crack down on illegal and criminal acts that disrupt the social order.”
Truckloads of armed police have been dispatched to Shanghai and Beijing. In Guangzhou, the police have clashed with protesters. Demonstrators have thrown glass bottles at the police, and the police have used tear gas to disperse the protestors.
On the other hand, the central government has also made a conciliatory gesture regarding COVID restrictions. The National Health Commission stated on November 29 that “COVID control should lock down quickly and open up quickly (afterwards)” and “wherever it can open up, it should open up.”
Some local authorities have yielded to protesters’ demands and relaxed COVID controls in certain regions. The Guangzhou government ended the lockdown in Haizhu District on Nov 16 after the public protest. Urumqi in Xinjiang released several residential neighborhoods on Nov 26 after people took to the streets and the Shanghai government announced that on Dec 1, it would end the control in 24 high-risk regions.
Whether the CCP’s “hard and soft” strategy will completely quiet down the protest remains to be seen.
1. Chinascope, November 29, 2022
1. The Paper, November 29, 2022
2. China Outlook, November 30, 2022