Chinese retirees have once more gathered to protest the reduction of their medical benefits. They met once more on Wednesday in the cities of Dalian in the northeast and Wuhan, where Covid was first discovered.
Just weeks out from the annual National People’s Congress, which will elect a new leadership team, the second round of protests in seven days increases pressure on President Xi Jinping’s administration.
After provincial authorities said they were reducing the number of medical expenses retirees can get back from the government, protests initially broke out in Wuhan on February 8. According to social media footage, most demonstrators are senior retirees who claim this is a response to the rising healthcare expenditure.
Even though such health insurance issues are dealt with at the provincial level, protests have expanded to many regions of the nation in what appears to be a revived faith in the effectiveness of protesting in China.
You can view a tweet in which senior citizens in China protest reduced healthcare coverage:
Elderly in China protest over slashed health benefits https://t.co/LsbskrsMLw
— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) February 16, 2023
People had become tired of the mass testing and abrupt, all-out lockdowns that had been wrecking the economy when thousands of young Chinese participated in protests at the end of the previous year. As a result, the government was eventually compelled to abandon its strict zero-Covid policies.
The coronavirus spread fast across China due to the abrupt policy change, placing tremendous pressure on the nation’s healthcare system. It caused an undetermined number of deaths, and BBC reporting indicated that most of those who passed away were old.
Officials have referred to the modifications to retiree health benefits as reforms, and they come as China emerges from the severe Covid wave.
The concept has been promoted as a way to alter payment rates to broaden the program’s coverage region. However, the widely held belief that Chinese officials are attempting to recuperate the enormous sums of money spent on mandatory Covid testing and other pandemic measures has been mentioned in criticism of the idea on social media.
Officials in Wuhan and Dalian claimed to be unaware of the most recent demonstrations and to have no further comment. Telephone calls to the nearby police stations remained unanswered. According to Radio Free Asia, the original Wuhan protest group included some retired iron and steel employees.
In a nation where organizing protests against the government in any form is challenging and can result in harsh punishment, including prison sentences, the use of existing social network connections may help to explain how these meetings have been managed.
Social media users posted videos of elderly protesters singing the Internationale, the official anthem of the Communist Party of the world. This song has previously been used to convey that protesters only seek redress for their complaints and are not hostile to the government or the Communist Party.
This Wednesday’s protest in Wuhan was witnessed by a shopkeeper, who told the BBC that police had blocked access to the area on both sides of a nearby road to stop more people from joining the hundreds of elderly protesters who were already screaming slogans.
There is a great deal of public unhappiness with China’s health policies due to the pandemic crisis that lasted three years and was followed by a turbulent transition from zero-Covid.
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Mr. Xi had endorsed the nation’s Covid amelioration efforts, so the Party has had to justify the need for such a swift U-turn. As a result of their early opening, other nations, according to the Chinese authorities, have unnecessarily sacrificed their populations.
After sustaining lockdowns and other draconian measures for a lot longer than any other country in the globe, it then reversed course. It abandoned its restrictions more quickly than other countries had. Many people in this area now think that unnecessarily ruined livelihoods as a result.
The hashtag #healthinsurance, which is in Chinese, received millions of hits on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media website, but it was taken down from the “hot topics” area. The hashtag that matched the location of the most recent demonstrations in Wuhan, Zhongshan Park, was banned, and images of the protest were deleted.
On social media, much support is still being shown for the protesting pensioners despite China’s extensive censorship apparatus going into action. If Beijing wishes to stop more public unrest, a solution to the problem must be found.
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