In China, in the official vocabulary, they are called “mass incidents” : collective protests of all types, whether they involve a few dozen people or several tens of thousands. In 2005, the last year the statistics were published, there were 87,000. And by 2010, their number had more than doubled, according to estimates by sociology professor Sun Liping. That’s an average of 500 per day! Suffice to say that the regime knows these phenomena very well, and knows perfectly well how to deal with them.
However, despite this know-how accumulated over decades, the Party-State seems to have been taken by surprise by the tsunami of protest that has been surging for a few days. Since Thursday, November 24 precisely, and the fire that ravaged the upper floors of a residential tower in Urumqi, capital of the Uighur region of Xinjiang, costing the lives of 10 people officially – several dozen in reality. The victims, almost all Uighurs, have been identified by diaspora NGOs. Whole families were decimated because all the emergency exits had been blocked off, in accordance with the policy “zero Covid”to ensure total containment in the event of contamination.
A huge wave of pain and anger then fell on the country, shattering fears and taboos, transforming crowds that were thought to be amorphous into determined and daring protesters. Until this tragedy, the majority of Chinese
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