China protests: John Bolton says Xi Jinping is worried ‘another Tiananmen Square’ tragedy is imminent
Chinese protesters have turned to blank sheets of paper to express their anger over COVID-19 restrictions
John Bolton has reflected on the mass protests sweeping across China at the moment as citizens share their anger at ongoing measures to prevent Covid spreading.
The Former Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs joined Nigel Farage for Talking Pints and shared a daunting analysis of the civil unrest.
Chinese protesters have turned to blank sheets of paper to express their anger over COVID-19 restrictions in a rare, widespread outpouring of public dissent that has gone beyond social media to some of China's streets and top universities.
Images and videos circulated online showed students at universities in cities including Nanjing and Beijing holding up blank sheets of paper in silent protest, a tactic used in part to evade censorship or arrest.
China is adhering to its tough zero-COVID policy even while much of the world tries to coexist with the coronavirus.
The latest wave of anger was triggered by an apartment fire that killed 10 people on Thursday in Urumqi, a far western city where some people had been locked down for as long as 100 days, fuelling speculation that COVID lockdown measures may have impeded residents' escape.
In Shanghai, a crowd that started gathering late on Saturday to hold a candlelight vigil for the Urumqi victims held up blank sheets of paper, according to witnesses and videos.
Other images showed dozens of other people subsequently taking to the university's steps with blank sheets of paper，illuminated against the night sky by flashlights from their mobile phones.
Widespread in-person protests are rare in China, where room for dissent has been all-but eliminated under President Xi Jinping, forcing citizens mostly to vent on social media where they play cat-and-mouse games with censors.
Joining Nigel Farage on GB News, Former Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs John Bolton reflected on the significance of the protests. He said: “Well, I think everybody is amazed to watch these pictures, but it's also important to watch what the security forces are doing.
“They are showing minimum restraint. And the real dilemma for Xi Jinping and the other leaders is do they crack down harder now to try and stop it from spreading? Or are they worried about pictures of another Tiananmen Square?
”I think that over the last almost three years, we haven't learned that much about what's going on inside China because they have locked down for COVID purposes.
“I think the discontent among the people is substantial, and these demonstrations are really the first chance they've had to express it.
“So Xi Jinping is in no immediate danger. But let's be clear. People remember the idea of freedom, and they don't like giving it up anywhere in the world.”
Responding, Nigel said: “Well, we've seen what's happened to Hong Kong. I mean, quite extraordinary, the deal that was done completely broken by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Bolton interjected: “This is a very important point. A lot of people on the left in Europe and the United States like to talk about solemn international agreements.
“Well, what China did in Hong Kong shows exactly what they think about international agreements.
“So when it comes to trade deals or arms control deals, environmental protection deals, they'll sign it, but they have no intention of following.”
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