In China there is fear of public gatherings. Images like those of these days in front of the PSOE headquarters in Ferraz are impossible to see in the Asian giant. The political hypersensitivity, especially of the provincial leaders, always afraid of the slap that Beijing will give them if any attempt at protest occurs in their domains, means that a demonstration, no matter how small, is interpreted, law in hand, as a attempt to subvert state power. Whether it is a crowd to ask for more bread or to honor the memory of a beloved personality who has died, local authorities panic over any roar from the street that could alter the stability achieved.
When the death of former Prime Minister Li Keqiang, the second most important political figure in China in the last decade, was announced at the end of October, there was a stir in many government offices, which quickly deployed their army of censors – both in the restricted cyberspace as well as at street level – to ensure that public tributes did not end in massive social protests.
There are several examples in the past that support the authorities’ concern. After the death of two prominent politicians of the Communist Party, former Prime Minister Zhou Enlai (1976) and Hu Yaobang (1989), former General Secretary, the avalanches of mourning transformed into large demonstrations in which some problems of a country that It carried many traumas from the turbulent era with Mao Zedong at the helm and also inferiority complexes towards Western powers and Eastern neighbors.
After Li’s death, at a time when the Asian country has several open cracks in its economy, and with many people who have not recovered from the three long years of blockades under the yoke of Covid zero, it was necessary to prevent any fuse of rebellion was lit. This month also marks one year since thousands of young people went out to protest in various regions to demand an end to the pandemic restrictions. It was the largest citizen mobilization in decades.
In Hefei, the late prime minister’s hometown, there was a silent tribute on the street, with hundreds of residents laying flowers in front of the house where the politician spent his childhood. The warnings mainly came to state media, with instructions to control “overly effusive comments” about Li’s death.