Chinese seniors protest reduced health benefits

On February 15, 2023, protesters assemble outside Zhongshan Park in Wuhan, China to voice their opposition to chan...

Chinese retirees have once more gathered in large numbers to protest the reduction of their medical benefits.

They gathered once more on Wednesday in the cities of Dalian in the northeast and Wuhan, where Covid was first discovered.

Just weeks away from the annual National People's Congress, which will elect a new leadership team, the second round of protests in seven days puts pressure on President Xi Jinping's administration.

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The majority of the protesters, according to social media footage, are elderly retirees who claim this is a response to the rising cost of healthcare.

Despite the fact that such health insurance issues are dealt with at the provincial level, protests have spread to various regions of the nation in what appears to be a renewed faith in the effectiveness of protesting in China.

People had grown 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 forced to abandon its strict zero-Covid policies.

The coronavirus spread quickly across China as a result of the abrupt change in policy, placing a tremendous strain on the nation's healthcare system. It caused an undetermined number of deaths, and BBC reporting seemed to indicate that the vast majority of those who passed away were elderly.

Officials have referred to the modifications to retiree health benefits as reforms, and they come as China emerges from the brutal Covid wave.

The plan has been promoted as a way to alter reimbursement rates in order to broaden the coverage's coverage area. However, the widely held belief that Chinese officials are attempting to recoup the enormous sums of money spent on mandatory Covid testing and other pandemic measures has been mentioned in criticism of the plan on social media.

Officials in Wuhan and Dalian both claimed to be unaware of the most recent demonstrations and to have no further comment. Telephone calls to the nearby police stations went unanswered.

According to Radio Free Asia, the original Wuhan protest group included a sizable portion of retired iron and steel workers.

In a nation where organizing dissent 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 gatherings have been coordinated.

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 the message that protesters are merely seeking 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 chanting slogans.

There is a great deal of public unhappiness with China's health policies as a result of the pandemic crisis that lasted three years and was followed by a turbulent exit from zero-Covid.

Staff members in protective suits conduct COVID-19 nuclei acid tests at a residential area on January 2, 2022 in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province of China.
The zero-Covid policies in China involved extensive testing.

Mr. Xi had personally endorsed the nation's Covid amelioration policies, so the Party has struggled to justify the need for such a swift U-turn.

As a result of their early opening, other nations, according to the Chinese government, had unnecessarily sacrificed their populations.

After maintaining lockdowns and other harsh measures for a lot longer than any other country in the world, it then reversed course and abandoned its own restrictions more quickly than other countries had.

Many people in this area now think that unnecessarily destroyed livelihoods as a result.

The hashtag "healthinsurance" in Chinese received millions of hits on Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media platform, but it was taken down from the "hot topics" section.

The hashtag that matched the location of the most recent demonstrations in Wuhan, Zhongshan Park, was censored, and images purporting to be of the protest were deleted.

On social media, a lot of support is still being shown for the protesting retirees despite China's extensive censorship apparatus going into action.

Beijing will need to find a way to resolve the issue if it wants to avoid further public agitation.

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