Chinese Protests and Communist Lies

Stu Cvrk Stu Cvrk
December 8, 2022Updated: December 17, 2022

Commentary

There has been a crescendo of protests and riots in as many as 13 Chinese cities over the past two weeks. The White Paper protesters are tired of the arbitrary zero-COVID policy consisting of lockdowns, testing requirements, quarantines, and censorship. The signature policy of Chinese leader Xi Jinping has been carried out with much brutality over the past two years.

“Zero-COVID” has wrecked Chinese lives and businesses and added another element of chaos to the churning Chinese economy that is already reeling from severe debt and real estate crises. Many people are tired of the informal “neighborhood committees” that have sprung up everywhere to enforce pandemic control policies or restrict the daily movements of local citizens. Others (although their numbers are unknown) have begun protesting the regime itself, calling for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to “step down.”

That last is a red flag to the CCP, and authorities are now beginning to clamp down on protesters by conducting interviews of people identified as protesters and also by exploiting the mandatory automated social control system. Most Chinese are required to use smartphones and other handheld devices to display their COVID testing status upon request to authorities and to allow access to public transportation and businesses (the ubiquitous green, yellow, and red color schemes used around the world).

The narrative inside China is also tightly managed, with state-run Chinese media virtually ignoring the protests and closely monitoring the Chinese internet to erase and stamp out dissent. Unfortunately for the CCP, its social control mandate has become a double-edged sword. Those same smartphones that monitor and report COVID status are used to quickly share direct evidence of the protests with other citizens and foreigners in recent days.

In any event, censors that manage the Great Firewall have been hard at work deleting videos, pictures, posts, and especially chat histories from social media accounts that display and discuss personal observations of the protests in various Chinese cities.

Other elements of the response to the protests by the Chinese authorities include a mixture of lies and tough actions, such as the following:

Recently, a BBC reporter was reportedly beaten and arrested by police while covering the protests—this was meant to send a warning to other foreign media that chose to report on the ongoing protests. This is a standard tactic, as the CCP knows that the foreign media will obsess over the protest story and propagate it everywhere to dissuade other journalists from making on-the-ground reports in China.

Epoch Times Photo
A man is arrested while people gather on a street in Shanghai to protest on Nov. 27, 2022. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

The CCP publicizes the “nationalist line” that blames unnamed foreigners for stirring the unrest. As reported by Reuters, “Prominent nationalist bloggers, such as Ren Yi, the grandson of Communist Party leader Ren Zhongyi, and Yu Li, who uses the pen name Sima Nan, wrote that the protests were fomented by ‘foreign forces.’” This is another standard tactic used in the CCP’s psychological warfare campaign that suppressed the Hong Kong protests in 2020.

Authorities blame the COVID testing companies that have profited greatly from the mandatory testing regimen implemented as part of the zero-COVID policy. Mandatory or insanely mandatory testing? Reuters reported that in Beijing, “a negative PCR test result within 48 hours [is required] for people to enter public places such as shopping malls, hotels, government buildings.” Such an onerous requirement makes it easy for the regime to shift blame for the protests to the testing companies. According to Bloomberg, “China’s Covid PCR testing companies are coming under increasing public criticism for profiting off the country’s controversial Covid-Zero strategy.” The reality is that this is yet another standard CCP tactic—blame-shifting and misdirection—that deflects the anger of the protesters away from the real root cause of the problem (the CCP).

Beijing announces the relaxation of some pandemic protocols in some cities. In response to international concerns, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian claimed that China has been adjusting the zero-COVID policy “based on the changing circumstances.” According to First Post, he stated: “We will keep improving science-based maximum protection to people’s lives and health and minimize the COVID impact on social economic development.” This tactic—policies vaguely claimed to have been changed without specifics—is another standard psychological feint used to persuade the Chinese people (and others) that the CCP is “responsive” to the people’s concerns.

Guaranteed Rights Under the Chinese Constitution

Does Xi Jinping feel even the slightest bit of shame or embarrassment about these protests?

Do the “guarantees” of the rights of Chinese citizens under the CCP’s constitution mean anything, or are they merely window dressing to try to convince people that the Communist Party is “civilized” and “legitimate” simply because it has a written constitution?

Amid the ongoing protests, CCP mouthpiece People’s Daily on Nov. 30 had the chutzpah to announce a “weeklong campaign to publish the Chinese constitution” beginning on Dec. 4, which is “Constitution Day” in China. Interestingly, Chinese authorities were forced to block protests in Tiananmen Square in 2014 when the National People’s Congress (China’s rubber-stamp legislature) first rubber-stamped the designation of Constitution Day.

Consider some of these rights that are “guaranteed” by the so-called constitution in the context of the suppression of the ongoing White Paper protests:

Article 33: “All citizens of the People’s Republic of China are equal before the law. The state shall respect and protect human rights.”

But the CCP violates the fundamental human rights of Chinese citizens whenever convenient or threatened, and some citizens are “less equal than others”—including Uyghurs, Tibetans, Falun Gong adherents, and anti-zero-COVID protesters. Protesting COVID measures that force compliance and adversely impact people’s lives apparently doesn’t qualify as a human right in China.

killing prisoners falun gong banner parade new york april
Falun Gong practitioners take part in a parade to raise awareness about the Chinese regime’s brutal persecution of the spiritual practice, including forced organ harvesting, in New York on May 13, 2022. (Larry Dye/The Epoch Times)

Article 35: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China shall enjoy freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, procession, and demonstration.”

How are those “guaranteed rights” working out for the protesters these days? The foreign press is intimidated, and suppression of the protesters is underway across China.

Article 37: “The personal freedom of citizens of the People’s Republic of China shall not be violated. No citizen shall be arrested unless with the approval or by the decision of a people’s procuratorate or by the decision of a people’s court, and arrests must be made by a public security organ.”

Another meaningless “right,” as protesters have been and are being detained by local law enforcement without cause. How many more such incidents have been hidden behind the Great Firewall?

Article 40: “Freedom and confidentiality of correspondence of citizens of the People’s Republic of China shall be protected by law.”

This is perhaps the most laughable constitutional “right” of all! Chinese censors continually violate this right as they censor and remove content from social media and other sources associated with the protests. There are no such things as privacy and “confidentiality of correspondence” in communist China!

Concluding Thoughts

At much risk to themselves, Chinese protesters continue expressing their displeasure with Xi’s signature zero-COVID policy, adversely affecting their daily lives. The White Paper protests are overwhelmingly supported by the American people, who fully understand and exercise the right to demonstrate against unacceptable government policies. A Rasmussen poll on Dec. 1 indicated that “76% of Likely U.S. voters approve of the protests in China, including 53% who Strongly Approve.”

The CCP’s suppression of the protesters clearly violates China’s constitution, which ostensibly guarantees certain rights for all Chinese citizens.

The blame-shifting campaign by the regime is nothing other than an attempt to preserve the legitimacy of the CCP, which has crushed basic human rights and freedoms in China since 1949.

Communist China’s constitution is a model of vagueness and lack of specificity, which allows the authorities to interpret the provisions any way they choose—in short, to boldly lie to anyone and everyone. And that arbitrariness of government actions in the preservation of the CCP is what is being played out yet again in China.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Stu Cvrk retired as a captain after serving 30 years in the U.S. Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. Through education and experience as an oceanographer and systems analyst, Cvrk is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education that serves as the key foundation for his political commentary.