The Chinese are showing that despite their severe restrictions and the forceful action of power, they can still achieve success.
Last week, Beijing’s city government issued China’s first mandate for a Covid-19 vaccine, Bloomberg reports. The policy has made boosters mandatory for some professions. Unlike in Europe and the US, where the population is too fearful to oppose the state, the public has reacted more harshly in Beijing, with many residents taking to social media to declare the mandate an illegal usurpation of their right. Beijing’s response was just as quick, less than 48 hours after the policy was announced, the city government canceled it.
Instead, people will be able to enter all public places if they can simply provide a negative Covid test result no older than 72 hours and have their temperature checked, an unnamed official said in an interview with the state-backed Beijing Daily. The city will continue to promote vaccination on a voluntary, informed and agreed basis, the official said.
“The turnaround shows the power of public opinion,” Hu Xijin, former editor-in-chief of the Communist Party-backed Global Times and influential commentator, said on his official Weibo account. “Chinese society is dominated by the government. They retreated in a timely manner in the face of public outcry. This means that they consider the public opinion about the vaccination mandate to be illegal.”
Citing public pressure, Bloomberg notes that Beijing has “inadvertently shown that their ability to control and channel public anger is not absolute.” The media giant then adds that “like their counterparts in democracies, Chinese leaders must consider populist anger. And during the rise of Chinese nationalism, these populist currents could have devastating consequences for peace and stability in Asia and around the world.”
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