Reports coming out from China speak of troubles whose roots lie in economic policies. They are immediately linked to Covid restrictions which have been called “draconian” but for a long while had been seen as effective. However, its "zero Covid" policy shows that the virus has not been conquered as yet as some had thought and hoped.
Commentators say , this is not the main reason why the street protests came but it accelerated the public angst over economic difficulties that had been brewing over many years. Now that has peaked and caused public unrest. The source of such information and comments are of course Western media and academia that have a stake in China’s economic pain. It means the global market competition will be less with the West and the market supremacy it had for long can continue longer. This is only to be expected.
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It would however be a bit foolish to depend on Western opinion alone to judge what is going on in China. Suffice to say that its public anger that has gone public which is the first instance since 1989 leading to what had been called the “Tienanmen square “ conflict. This writer had the chance to visit China soon after that and remembers the “business as usual” life on the streets of Beijing and Guang Zu. However, the lips of all were sealed and at the official meeting, visitors were told not to mention the event at all.
Security and economics
For the moment China is focusing on taking security measures. Authorities have decided not to exert too much force and the demos have almost disappeared overnight anyway. That was to be expected. These were not organized protests but spontaneous bursts of frustration. However, actions will certainly be taken and the security forces will certainly intern many of the street protestors.
If economic policies are responsible to which have been added the burden of zero covid, the problem lies with problem solving methods not ideology. Its covid handling was tough but initially successful and had its reluctant admirers in the West also. But China’s covid policy shows that the virus is stronger than the administrative methods in the country of its origin in suppressing it. There was a major gap which we were learning now.
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The main issue is however economic. It’s been said that China’s property market is in shambles and the debt burden has been piling up making the next few years very difficult. The US has also cut off chip supply, adding to the difficulties, making it part of a much bigger and much more important global economic war.
Bangladesh will be affected by China’s economic difficulties and should start assessing what needs to be done. Media should pick up the topic and push the experts to probe the issue. Sadly, both our media and academia are more into media comments rather than in-depth research. That Bangladesh will have to share the problems is certain and with the high volume debt payments to begin in 2026 , Bangladesh can’t afford to take this lightly along with the rest of our woes.