Xi Jinping, a Chinese leader, stepped out to speak to the nation of China just six weeks ago. He had just won what was likely a new decade in the power. His new team of subordinates was unwavering loyalists. His authoritarian agenda was affirmed at a Communist Party congress, which promised a “new age” in which China’s 1.4bn people would continue to follow him and his party.

However, a national protest wave has proven that even after a decade of Mr. Xi’s rule, a small but mostly youthful portion of the population can imagine and even demand another China. One that is more liberal, less controlled, and more politically free. A collective roar emerged from a murmur of dissent which had survived censorship and detention under Mr. Xi.

Chen Min, a Chinese journalist and writer who uses the pseudonym Xiao Shu wrote this week, “I can regain confidence in society and in a young generation,” “Now, I have the grounds to believe that brainwashing can work. But it is not without its limitations.”

Police have been mobilising since the weekend to quell new protests. The government indicated that they were willing to address the root cause, which was intrusive Pandemic Controls. Residents in one city were able to return to work for the first week after lockdowns were lifted. Other people were no longer required or required to submit to regular Covid tests. A senior official from Beijing’s health department said for the second day in a row that the country was moving into a new phase in the fight against the virus.

While the party has not yet publicly acknowledged widespread protests against lockdowns the authorities have been looking into people’s phones, warning them, interrogating those in detention, and staging violent displays of force at possible protest sites. The death Wednesday of Jiang Zemin, a former Chinese President who gained a political patina in retirement as a mild leader, will only increase the vigilance. His funeral will take place on Tuesday.

Despite all this, the flash floods of resistance suggest that Mr. Xi may have to face more challenges and turmoil in his next years as a leader than seemed possible just a month ago. His hold on the party elite seems unassailable, but his grip over other parts of the society, especially the young seems less certain.

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