The November 25–27 protests in China shocked the world. Various reports indicated that thousands of people participated in the protests in and around Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Chengdu and Wuhan.
Ten people died in an apartment fire in Xinjiang’s Urumqi after their doors were locked from the outside due to lockdown restrictions, which sparked initial protests. While the lifting of those limits was the main objective of the protest, it ultimately resulted in the resignation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Using white paper or plain white cloth as an anti-censorship symbol, the protesters denounced the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and called for democracy and the right to free speech.
What caused the events?
A few things can be noted from this collective protest. It is difficult to imagine such a large-scale event taking place in China, as the last major protest in China that attracted a military presence was 30 years ago. But these demonstrations are not unique to Beijing. In 2019, three months of pro-democracy protests took place in Hong Kong.
But last month’s protest came after nationwide tensions escalated when Xi, addressing the 20th CCP Congress in October, said: “In response to the sudden outbreak of Covid-19, we put the people and their lives above all else, to prevent again emergence of cases originating from within or brought from abroad, and by consistent pursuit of a dynamic zero-covid policy”.
China will decide who will win the battle: Russia or the West
The statement reflects China’s efforts to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, including implementing a strict lockdown. However, such efforts have led to disappointments as heard during the recent protests. Indicating that despite the reassignment of the president’s party, some groups still dare to illegitimate the power of Xi and the CCP.
When Xi was reappointed by the Congress as General Secretary of the CCP. The statement from the party representatives was as follows, “We must fully uphold Comrade Xi’s core position in the Central Committee and the Party and carry out Xi Jinping’s Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” should be implemented.”
It will be interesting to see how this protest develops and what the Chinese government does next. Just days after the Tiananmen Square protests, the CCP decided to use military force to disperse the crowds, resulting in civilian casualties and mass arrests. As a result of these actions, China received international sanctions, particularly from the US and other Western countries.
Unlike the crackdown on Tiananmen Square, the CCP’s handling of the Hong Kong protests did not involve the use of live ammunition or the military. Instead, Hong Kong security forces dispersed the protests using water cannons, tear gas and rubber bullets. With current events, Beijing is wary that deploying force, as it has done in the past, could damage Hong Kong’s reputation as a free zone under China’s “one country, two systems” doctrine. . As a result, sanctions will affect China, with Hong Kong as an economic hub.
Another move to quell the protests in Hong Kong is the withdrawal of the extradition bill, a direct demand of the protesters. The Chief Executive of Hong Kong carried out this action; However, there is speculation that Beijing was behind the decision.
What’s next and the impact on Indonesia
Of course, it’s too early to tell how these current protests will end. However, even if they go ahead, Beijing will likely handle it the same way they did with the 2019 protests. On the other hand, if the CCP’s actions cost lives and damage the economy, it will lose more respect from Chinese citizens.
Even though these protests may go on for some time, Beijing is likely to avoid using military force or violence and may gradually ease lockdown rules to prevent the spread of public sentiment. By doing so, both the Chinese government and the CCP can maintain the legitimacy of the people and accelerate economic recovery.
There has also been a wave of protests in Australia And turkey and may continue to spread in Indonesia mainly due to the growing negative sentiment towards China.
Based on an Indonesian national survey project by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in July 2022, which directly interviewed a group of 1,600 diverse respondents about economic, domestic and international politics, revealed that approximately 25.4% of the Indonesian public believes that the rise of China will negatively affect Indonesia. In contrast, only 30% believe Indonesia would benefit from establishing ties with China.
Will we see BRICS now?
The survey also showed that positive sentiment towards China in Indonesia has reached only 66% compared to 76.7% five years ago. Not only this, many are also concerned about Indonesia’s participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project; At least 41.5% of respondents believe that the BRI could create a debt trap for other countries, including Indonesia. a belief, likely based on events in other countries, such as the construction of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka, that resulted in economic losses.
Negative perceptions of China also extend to Chinese descendants in Indonesia. As demonstrated by the 41% of survey respondents who think Chinese descendants are still loyal to China.
A recent study by LAB45 showed that Xi’s re-election is a breath of fresh air for countries in Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia. However, recent protests in China could pose obstacles to its continued presence in Indonesia, the closest of China’s ASEAN allies.
[Tasheanna Williams edited this piece.]
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Fair Observer.