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Anti-lockdown protests flared up briefly in China, and the country rapidly changed course. Carl Zha explains why.
As has been widely reported, China has relaxed its hitherto very strict Zero Covid policies. Prolific Chinese-American podcaster and history maven Carl Zha offered what I think is the best take so far. In a discussion this week with Brian Berletic on the latter's New Atlas channel, Carl observed that, much to the apparent disappointment of Western China hawks lusting after regime change in Beijing, the protests are now over. Yes, there were legitimate grievances; many Chinese were tired of the restrictions. Yes, there was also, says Carl, obvious foreign influence, the “usual suspects” fomenting protest, trying to spark “Tiananmen 2.0”, much the way they did in Hong Kong several years ago. But the government move rapidly to address the grievances and quickly rescinded many of the most restrictive measures across the entire country.
“This is the paradox of China,” Carl observes. “Yes, there is censorship. At the same time the government does move rapidly to address problems”. He says they learned their lesson from the 1989 student protests, now ensuring grievances don’t fester and demands don't escalate.
Zha makes an obvious point: we here in the West can presumably protest to our heart's content, but it never changes anything. What can I say? On 1 January of this year I attended a big anti-lockdown protest at Amsterdam’s Museumplein which was graced with a very large and menacing police presence; subsequent images of police dogs attacking protesters went viral, resulting in considerable outrage. Neither this nor any of the other protests here in the Netherlands, nor in other European countries, some of which were very large indeed, appeared to have had any impact whatsoever on pandemic policy; our governments stuck robotically to their misguided and ultimately futile “containment” strategies.
In the rest of the hour-long discussion with Brian Berletic, a superb military and geopolitical analyst based in Bangkok, who has been offering outstanding coverage on the Ukraine crisis, Carl goes on to discuss China’s Century of Humiliation, and towards the end of the hour the recent elections in Taiwan. Highly recommended:
For additional very detailed information on the new pandemic policies, see‘s whimsically named Pekingnology (shades of the venerable Kreminology of yore?), which provides lots of excellent reporting on China in English: