|The historic protests in China are just the start. Unless Xi Jinping can fix the economy, his problems are just going to get worse.
China has erupted in mass protests over the past week, as thousands of citizens call for an end to restrictive COVID lockdowns. The boldest of the disruptors have even demanded an end to political repression — a startling and unprecedented challenge to the authoritarian rule of President Xi Jinping.
“This is Xi’s first real test,” Minxin Pei, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College, told senior correspondent Linette Lopez.
But Xi doesn’t have the tools he needs to pass. China still lacks effective vaccines to help deal with the public health problem. And with a withering economy — that threatens to take the rest of the world down with it — Xi can’t lean on economic growth or entrepreneurial opportunities to distract people from the growing political unrest.
That leaves Xi with the one thing authoritarians typically rely on when faced with domestic pressure: more repression to enforce order. The choice for Xi is lockdowns or batons. And either way, the Chinese people lose.
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