China’s most powerful leader in decades, Xi Jingping recognizes the risks facing him as he maneuvers to extend his time in power beyond 2022 after doing away with term limits.
For months, he’s warned that the coronavirus might pose a risk to “social stability” in China, Bloomberg reported.
His strategy so far has boiled down to three major things–Pump money into creating jobs, censor any dissenting views and redirect the anger on the ground with an appeal to nationalism.
A Politburo meeting on Friday, in which Xi reviewed a draft of Premier Li Keqiang’s annual report to the National People’s Congress, discussed measures to ensure social stability and employment in the face of “grim and complex” economic challenges.
So far at least, the strategy appears to be working on the ground.
Dozens of residents in Guangdong last week were more focused on paying the next bill than hinting at a revolution to come.
In the provincial capital of Guangzhou, small business fronts were plastered with signs posted by renters seeking to sublet commercial spaces or even sell their businesses altogether.
In one area called the Yinggao Trade City, most business units sat shuttered as international buyers stayed away and overseas demand plummeted.
Diego Lee, the marketing director of Kumpaya Im & Export Agent Co. Ltd, said business has been “terrible” in recent months.
“No one wants anything except masks,” he said.
Still, he doesn’t blame the government, especially given the performance of the U.S. and Europe in handling the virus.
“If you look at the world, China has dealt with this better than anyone,” he said.
“You have to listen to all these parties, but we just have one and everyone has to do what it says. If you want to walk your dog and the government says no, then you can’t walk your dog. You’ve lost some freedom, but you’re safe.”
In Dongguan, migrant workers who lost their jobs almost overnight were feeling the brunt of the impact.
A few doors down from Long’s textile workshop, an ecosystem of businesses were struggling to stay afloat.