| China’s Political Safety Valve

Social protests in China no longer startle. Hundreds and even thousands regularly gather to rail against local corruption, land expropriation, environmental degradation, or unpaid wages, often prompting harsh police crackdowns. In recent days, police teargassed protesters (Radio Australia) when the crowd blocked train lines in eastern China to protest redistricting they fear may threaten their social benefits. The unrest has not escaped Communist Party notice: An official newspaper advised local authorities to restrain (AP) from using force in protests that serve as a “collective appeal for help from violations of the law.” CFR Fellow Carl Minzner says in a new podcast that China lacks institutional means to address grievances at the local level, so protesters mount large-scale demonstrations to petition the central government for assistance.

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