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Crowds of Retirees in China have Again taken to the Streets to Protest Over Slashed Health Benefits

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Crowds of Retirees in China have Again taken to the Streets to Protest Over Slashed Health Benefits

(CTN News) – Chinese retirees have assembled in huge numbers to protest the elimination of their medical entitlements.

On Wednesday, they reconnected in the northeastern cities of Dalian and Wuhan, also the location of Covid’s first discovery.

The second wave of protests in seven days puts further pressure on President Xi Jinping’s administration only weeks before the annual National People’s Congress, which will pick a new leadership team.

Protests started on February 8 in Wuhan when provincial authorities said they were lowering the number of medical expenses the government may reimburse retirees.

According to social media footage, most protesters are senior retirees who argue that this is a reaction to the growing cost of healthcare.

Even though provincial governments deal with health insurance concerns, protests have spread throughout the country in what seems to be a renewed belief in the power of protest in China.

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When thousands of young Chinese took part in protests at the end of the previous year, people had become weary of the widespread testing and sudden, complete lockdowns that had been ruining the economy.

The government was eventually forced to give up its strict zero-Covid rules.

The abrupt policy change caused the coronavirus to spread quickly across China, putting enormous strain on the country’s healthcare system.

As a result, unknown numbers of people died, and BBC reporting suggested that the elderly made up the vast bulk of the dead.

The changes to retiree health benefits—which officials have characterized as reforms—come as China emerges from the devastating Covid wave.

The idea has been marketed to change payment rates to increase the program’s geographic reach.

However, criticism of the proposal on social media has alluded to the generally held opinion that Chinese officials are aiming to recoup the vast amounts of money spent on compulsory Covid testing and other pandemic safeguards.

Wuhan and Dalian officials said they were unaware of the most recent protests and had no additional comments. Calls to the neighborhood police stations went unanswered.

According to Radio Free Asia, many of the original Wuhan protest groups consisted of retired iron and steel workers.

Using existing social network connections may help explain how these events have been organized in a country where organizing protests against the government in any form is difficult and may result in severe consequences, including prison sentences.

Videos of elderly demonstrators singing the Internationale, the Communist Party of the World’s national anthem, have been broadcast on social media.

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This song has previously been used to illustrate that demonstrators are not opposed to the government or the Communist Party but are only looking for remedies for their grievances.

A shopkeeper who saw this Wednesday’s protest in Wuhan told the BBC that police had blocked access to the area on both sides of a nearby road to prevent more people from joining the hundreds of elderly protestors who were already yelling slogans.

Due to the three-year pandemic crisis and the tumultuous move away from zero-Covid, public discontent is growing with China’s health policy.

Mr. Xi had personally approved the country’s efforts to improve Covid, so the Party has had to explain why such a quick U-turn was necessary.

The Chinese government claims that other countries have unnecessarily sacrificed their people due to their early openness.

It maintained lockdowns and other harsh measures for much longer than any other nation before turning around and lifting its limitations faster than other nations had.

Many locals now believe that, as a result, livelihoods were unnecessarily destroyed.

On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media platform, the hashtag #healthinsurance, which is in Chinese, gained millions of hits before being removed from the “hot topics” section.

The hashtag that matched Zhongshan Park, the site of the most recent protests in Wuhan, was outlawed, and pictures claiming to show the rally were removed.

Despite China’s strong censorship measures, there is still a lot of sympathy for the protesting retirees on social media.

Beijing has to solve the issue to prevent more popular discontent.

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Arsi Mughal is a staff writer at CTN News, delivering insightful and engaging content on a wide range of topics. With a knack for clear and concise writing, he crafts articles that resonate with readers. Arsi's pieces are well-researched, informative, and presented in a straightforward manner, making complex subjects accessible to a broad audience. His writing style strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and casual approachability, ensuring an enjoyable reading experience.

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