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China saw hundreds of protests this year despite strict censorship norms, finds new report

According to Freedom House's report, 668 instances of protest were recorded in China between June and September.

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New Delhi: Amid stringent censorship norms in China, the country sees frequent instances of dissent, according to a new analysis from the Washington DC-based nonprofit advocacy and research group Freedom House.

In their latest report, Freedom House has noted that 668 instances of dissent took place between June and September in China.

The report mentions that Chinese citizens “spoke out against stalled housing projects, labour rights violations, fraud, Covid-19 policies, and state violence, among other grievances”.

The report also finds that in 168 cases of dissent, individuals faced pushback from Chinese authorities, including violence, intimidation, detention and censorship — reflecting the Chinese states’ efforts to restrict organised collective action systematically.

The protests are also not limited to any specific part of the country, the report says.

The report also notes that there were 77 instances of protests north of Beijing in the Heibei Province, 72 in Henan and 49 incidents were reported in Shaanxi, both places situated in central China. In the south of China, 49 instances were recorded in Guangdong and 42 in Sichuan province.

“The project documented 37 cases that led to some type of concession by the government or a company, such as local governments changing policies after citizens protested,” added the report.

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32 per cent protests on housing

The report found multiple themes that have galvanised protests in China throughout this year and among them housing projects accounted for a bulk of demonstrations.

The report said that 32 per cent of the protests and 214 documented cases were related to stalled housing projects, with property buyers leading 43 per cent of these protests.

As much as 17 per cent of the protests and 110 incidents were against salary and benefits. Around 106 cases and 16 per cent of the protests were against fraud, the report added.

The report also found that 37 per cent of the protests were related to China’s persistence with the draconian zero-Covid policy.

The report, however, noted that most of these protests were against corporations or local administrations, and not the central government. As much as 64 per cent of the protests were against companies, and 33 per cent targeted local administrations, while only 3 per cent spoke against the central government.

Most protests are offline

Out of the 668 documented events of dissent, 95 per cent or 636 of them took place offline, including strikes, demonstrations, and occupations.

“60 per cent of offline events had 10 to 99 participants, 18 per cent had 2 to 9 participants, and 7 per cent had 100 to 999. At least 8,755 people have cumulatively participated in offline dissent during the time period we assessed,” the report added. It recorded 32 cases of online protests.

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