NEW DELHI: This doesn’t happen very often in China, especially since Xi Jinping took over the leadership of the Communist Party. Thus, it must have surprised the police and the administration in China when banners criticizing the strict “Covid Zero“Communist politics and leadership have been hung at a busy crossroads in Beijing.
Social media posts showed banners calling for an end to the hard-line “Covid Zero” policy and the overthrow of Communist Party leader and President Xi Jinping.
However, internet censors in China moved quickly to clean up social media posts about protest banners in Beijing. It was unclear who might have hung the banners or when they were placed. Dozens of police were circulating in the area, entering stores. Sometimes they stopped pedestrians and questioned them. Associated Press reporters were questioned three times and asked to produce identification. Police denied that anything unusual had happened in the area.
Political demonstrations are very rare in China. Therefore, the protest of the banners, however symbolic, is of great importance. More than the manifestation, it is the timing that makes it more significant.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to take the stage on Sunday to launch a landmark congress of the ruling Communist Party, where he is set to win a third term that cements his place as China’s most powerful leader since Mao Zedong.
Mortgage boycott
In a rare act of disobedience, homebuyers in at least more than 100 cities halted mortgage payments as developers halted work on construction projects to fund the tightening and strict Covid Zero rules. The mortgage boycott added to concerns about a prolonged downturn in China’s property market. Loans worth over $40 billion are at stake due to mortgage boycott threats.
President for life?
The congress comes at a tumultuous time, with Xi’s adherence to his “Covid Zero” policy hitting the economy, while his support for Russia’s Vladimir Putin has further alienated China from the West. Still, diplomats, economists and analysts say Xi is poised to consolidate his grip on power and could continue to lead China for as long as he wants.
The week-long congress will take place with around 2,300 delegates, mostly behind closed doors, in the sprawling Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square. The Chinese capital has tightened security and intensified Covid screening. In neighboring Hebei province, steel mills have been ordered to scale back operations to improve air quality, an industry source said.
(With agency contributions)

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