In March of this year, 2022, China’s ruling Communist Party announced that Xi Jinping will continue serving as president, commencing his third term. However, recent developments in the country have challenged Xi’s leadership. We will explore why.
What has defined Xi’s leadership thus far?
Since Xi Jinping’s first term in 2013, China under Xi has generally been more focused on fostering China’s relationship with the international community and developing China’s economic prowess. One of the most notable developments under Xi has been the Belt and Road initiative. The initiative aims to develop infrastructure throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa through maritime and land systems to further “regional integration, trade, and economic growth.”
Domestically, Xi has made strong commitments to anti-corruption within the nation's regional leadership. Under the guise of anti-corruption, scholars have theorized that it may be the case that this is an attempt to keep political dissidents at bay. This, in conjunction with strict censorship laws, has allowed Xi and the ruling party to have great influence over the domestic developments within the nations.
So, why have these protests broken out?
During the pinnacle of the Covid-19 outbreak, China was under close watch. Given China’s past commitments to international development and growing global leadership, Xi subsequently implemented zero-Covid policy changes to combat the spread of the virus. These changes have included rigid lockdowns of major cities throughout the nation, such as Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, and an additional 70+ cities. Since late August, more than 313 million people have been subjected to lockdowns. During the lockdowns, residents are not permitted to leave their immediate regions, while others are not permitted to leave their homes. These lockdowns have directly affected the businesses and the livelihood of many Chinese residents.
On Thursday, November 24th, a fire broke out in Urumqi, located in the Xinjiang region. Reports have indicated that the fire killed 10 people and injured nine. The extensive zero-Covid regulations delayed how quickly the firefighters were able to reach the location of the fire. These lockdowns are coming close to three years in duration, and the Chinese public, especially after the casualties in the Xinjiang fire, has had enough of the restrictive zero-Covid policies. Protestors have emerged in over eight cities. As of November 29th, 2022, the protests have emerged in the following cities: Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hotan, Korla, Lanzhou, Nanjing, Shanghai, Taiyuan, Tianjin, Urumqi, Wuhan, and Xi’an.
Why do these protests threaten Xi Jinping’s Leadership?
As aforementioned, Xi’s domestic leadership has been defined by strict adherence to censorship. For this reason, China, under a Communist regime, has successfully cracked down on any kind of political resistance. For this reason, widespread and large-scale protests are uncommon. The demonstrators are now pushing for the removal of Xi Jinping from office. Prior to the March 2022 decision, presidential leaders have generally adhered to a two-term presidency limit. The call for his removal may deter Xi’s favorability within the ruling Communist Party.
Stay tuned for developments of this story.
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