As anger over China’s strict COVID-19 policy intensifies, residents in some major cities took to the streets at the weekend, clashing with police over restrictions that have taken a heavy toll on the economy and people’s freedoms.
Some called for Chinese President Xi Jinping to step down, while in the commercial capital Shanghai, police took away a busload of protesters, in scenes unprecedented since Xi assumed power a decade ago.
Here’s what people are saying about the unrest in China:
GARY NG, ECONOMIST, NATIXIS, HONG KONG:
“The market does not like uncertainties that are difficult to price and the China protests clearly fall into this category. It means investors will become more risk-averse.
“The China-linked markets across Asia, such as Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, are more likely to see a larger impact.”
SUMMER KAY, 24, INTERNET INDUSTRY, BEIJING:
“The pandemic and the codes have brought us so much torture. And now there are more people becoming unemployed, and it’s becoming an ordeal for kids and the elderly to get medical attention.
“If we just remain silent, I think it will only get worse … Maybe tomorrow the police will find us based on the records, maybe some of us will be arrested on strange charges and disappear.”
MARTIN PETCH, VICE PRESIDENT, MOODY’S INVESTORS SERVICE:
“We expect the protests … to dissipate relatively quickly and without resulting in serious political violence.
“However, they have the potential to be credit negative if they are sustained and produce a more forceful response by the authorities.”
KAY HUANG, 28 WORKING IN ENTERTINMENT SECTOR, BEIJING:
“I’m really touched especially when they’re singing and everything they say – we want rights, freedom and don’t give up. That’s powerful. That’s warm,” Huang told Reuters at a candlelight vigil in east Beijing on Sunday night.
“I want to see Beijing going back to normal as a capital city. I want people to see people safe, and free and happy again, not to have so many negative thoughts. I want to feel hope instead of feeling numb everyday.”
ROBERT SUBBARAMAN, CHIEF ECONOMIST ASIA EX-JAPAN, NOMURA, SINGAPORE:
“There is a tail risk that the road to living with COVID is too slow, surging COVID cases fuels more protests and social unrest further weakens the economy are market concerns.
“Things are very fluid. Protests could also be the catalyst that leads to a positive outcome in leading the government to set a clearer game plan on how the country is going to learn to live with COVID, setting a more transparent timetable, and accelerating China’s move to living with COVID.”
TAIWAN PREMIER SU TSENG-CHANG:
In response to a question asking if he was concerned China might attack Taiwan to distract the public from the protests, Su said: “China is an autocratic and totalitarian country and close to us, so we will keep an eye on any changes and moves in China and respond immediately.” (Reporting By Martin Pollard Quin in Beijing; Yimou Lee in Taipei; Scott Murdoch in Sydney; Compiled by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Michael Perry)