The White Paper Protest

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Chinese people are defying the rigid mandates of Xi Jinping to contend with the spread of Covid. And with good reason. The long quarantines have severely restricted mobility and curbed economic activity. They are choking the Chinese.
In Urumqi, in Xinjiang province, a province notorious for the repression of the Uyghur population, 10 died in a fire last Thursday, November 24th. The building was under quarantine and they couldn’t get out in time.
There is a beauty to seeing Chinese people protesting against their despotic regime, shouting proudly their opposition to their government’s draconian policies.
The demonstrations, which started in Urumqi, have spread to Shanghai and Beijing.
The Chinese have reason to ask why their leadership has not used the better vaccines produced in the West with MRNA technology – a point of pride getting in the way of the welfare of the people. And so, a full three years after the outbreak of the pandemic in Wuhan, not enough Chinese have been vaccinated which would have raised the level of immunity of the population and reduced the need for the overly restrictive quarantines.
The limitations of movement that come with the communist party’s zero covid policy have only been possible because of the severe curbs on freedom of speech.
There is no dialogue between the citizen and the government and the absurdity of their policies against covid is but one example.
The chosen symbol of the protests, a white sheet of paper, I take to symbolize that Chinese people feel they have no voice whatsoever. They are expected to obey and obey. The leadership has got all the answers.
But the protesters are stepping out in large numbers and saying, ‘enough is enough’.
Will this lead to even larger demonstrations?
My hope is that it will. If so, they need to brace themselves for brutal retaliation.
Xi Jinping and his supporters are now devising ways to crush dissent. ‘How dare this rabble raise their voices, how dare they think they even have a voice? I am their voice,’ will say the chairman.
The protests speak loudly of how the Chinese people have connected with their political courage. How they wish to exercise freedom as an essential means to counter excesses. How without such freedom the whims of those in power do not get scrutinized and questioned.
Some demonstrators may, perhaps, be satisfied with what measures are proposed to lessen the length and scope of current quarantines, but this movement, even in its early stages, is about much more than covid. It’s about asserting people’s rights to be heard and to select who will govern them.
The communist leadership sees that and it is frightened by it.
Who knows how far this movement will go but it is a start and the world needs to be fully supportive of it.
The winds of freedom are blowing. They are blowing from Ukraine. They have reached Iran and now China.
Putin may have already called Xi Jinping with words of advice. ‘Jinping… listen to me, I have experience. Repress… repress… and repress again. Like you did with the Uyghurs, like you did in Hong Kong, like you will do in Taiwan. Fear is good. It works. Please, no dialogue. I need you.’

On China. We Have Our Differences

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Take the Covid 19 pandemic. We know it started in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019, but their leadership chose not to quickly contact the World Health Organization (WHO). Instead they suppressed reports by their own doctors, the first one reporting dying from the disease.
Time was critical but wasted because of China’s secrecy. If there had been openness from the start, a better organized response by all nations would have been possible. It would have led to vastly fewer deaths.
China has also rejected importing western vaccines based on MRNA technology and considered of better quality than the ones they’ve produced.
Their pride gets in the way of their own good.
Their insistence on self reliance has had significant economic consequences as well.
Their policy of strict quarantines in the management of Covid 19 has affected mobility and negatively impacted commerce, leading investors to begin to pull out of the country.
And yet the People’s Republic of China has set the pursuit of self reliance as their national goal. In other words, the Chinese believe they won’t need anyone.
Or are they just very angry at everyone?
‘Why are we not number one yet?’
‘Why did Trump put tariffs on our products?’
Well, because your cheaper products were contributing to unemployment in the US and America had not learned to deal effectively with the problem. Time was needed in the adjustment to globalization.
‘Why aren’t you (the West) not letting Huawei, our state supported electronics company, upgrade your communications infrastructure?’
Because we don’t trust that you won’t use those systems to spy on us.
You already have a history of forced technology transfers from western companies doing business in your land and a history of extensive cyberwarfare to steal secrets from us.
So why should we think it will be any different with Huawei?
You have a long history of censorship of your people, severely restricting freedom of speech and closely monitoring their activities.
Your communist party obviously doesn’t like having any competition.
We, on the other hand, believe competition is central to our wellbeing.
So, no, you can’t have Taiwan. No, because they are a free people and it’s taking them a lot of work to get there. They deserve what they’ve worked for. They don’t deserve falling under the regimentation of your party.
And yet, the West is impressed with all that China has accomplished. You keep building ships and trains and electric cars and sent a satellite to look at the dark side of the moon.
Very good.
But your people are not free.
That’s a huge difference for us.
You’re a strong supporter of Putin and his war against Ukrainians. That’s a lot of killing that Putin has done. And you support the tyrants in Myanmar, also. In other words, where there is a dictator oppressing people, you’re right there to offer assistance.
As things stand, then, you have a long way to becoming number one.
Mind you, because you are a smart people you may surprise us all. Time will tell.
We in the West have a lot of problems, too. Difficulty in communication being one of them. So we need to work hard also.
Right now we’re going through a specially difficult phase. While we talk a lot we haven’t been doing enough listening.
One of our presidents tried to overturn the results of a free election and now he’s announced he will run again. Unbelievable.
To our credit, however, America did not choose him in 2020.
In China, your citizens can’t say, ‘we’ve had ten years of Xi Jinping, we need to look at someone else’. You can’t do that. The party makes sure the Chinese people keep their mouths shut.
In China, they don’t even get the full story of the forced labor camps for the Uyghurs in Xinjiang province. Or the brutal repression of the Hong Kong dissenters. And I’m sure they’re not getting the full picture of all the atrocities Putin is committing in Ukraine.
Why, then, should you be number one in the world?
But we’ll keep listening.
I promise, we’ll listen to all your complaints about our mistakes and your belief that we’re in the midst of inevitable decadence.
But we differ here, too. We’re of the view that national growth requires a lot of effort and yet the outcome is hard to predict. Sometimes things move positively, sometimes negatively. But so long as the trend is upward we’re okay. A bit like the stock market. We just have to keep betting on our people.
Also, many of us believe that no matter our present differences, we should not keep your students from coming to America’s schools, should they want to, even if they go back and decide to join the communist party.
Why? Because it just could be, that something about freedom will stay with them, and who knows, that might end up helping China mature and the world become a better place.
So let’s keep talking. Talk is good. Listening, is even better.
In the end, people everywhere, want to be free.
Not ruled by a repressive regime.
The winds of freedom from Ukraine have reached Iran.
That’s not too far from where you are.