A widely circulated article from four years ago is gaining renewed attention among Chinese internet users, who lament the increasingly gloomy and declining societal situation under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It vividly reflects the widespread aversion and rejection of leader Xi Jinping’s calls for steadfast adherence to the authoritarian rule of the CCP.
Published in 2020, marking Xi Jinping’s eighth year as head of the CCP, the article summarized his “8 years of mismanagement, 8 failed endeavors” (折腾来折腾去 8年干砸8件事):
- Xiong’an New Area, Xi’s prestige endeavor to construct a new capital city south of Beijing, has turned into an abandoned project — trillions of yuan wasted.
- The establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) aimed to rival international institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, but has proved utterly ineffective.
- The CCP glorified its “Belt and Road Initiative” as a great strategic plan. However, the outcome was problematic for countries involved in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. The East Coast Rail Link in Malaysia faced difficulties and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is on the verge of collapse. Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port was leased to China for 99 years but is now deserted. Anti-Chinese sentiment has risen in Africa, as indicated by the killing of Chinese nationals while working BRI projects in Zambia. Billions have been irretrievably lost through these investments. To buy a bridgehead in Europe for the Belt and Road, China spent 20 billion euros, yet Italy is becoming ever more skeptical about the whole partnership [editorial note: In 2023, Italy withdrew from BRI]
In South America, Brazil is Communist China’s biggest trading partner in Latin America, but due to one domineering move by the CCP, the Brazilian people pushed the words “Long live Taiwan” into the top-ranking hashtag. Taiwan’s status in Brazil has never been higher! Massive investments in the South Pacific to bribe a few small island nations into not diplomatically recognizing the Republic of China [Taiwan’s official name] resulted in strong actions from the United States and Australia.
- Hong Kong, once a well-established international financial center, has sunk into decline. Over the 40 years of reform and opening up, numerous funds and technologies have entered China through the channel of Hong Kong. It can be said that without Hong Kong, the current prosperity of the mainland’s economy would not exist. How much capital has Hong Kong’s stock market provided for both state-owned and private enterprises? In terms of trade, how much convenience has Hong Kong brought to China? A secure, prosperous, and stable Hong Kong, instead of having its autonomy honored, was disrupted by the introduction of the controversial mainland extradition bill, leading to massive protests. The imposition of the National Security Law [in June 2020] further pushed Hong Kong further downward.
- Cross-strait relations with Taiwan have worsened tremendously. Were it not for the CCP’s provocations; the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), especially under Tsai Ing-wen, would have faced huge challenges in securing reelection. Instead, Tsai managed to achieve an unprecedented victory with over 8 million votes. Beijing unintentionally became her biggest campaign donor.
- Most concerning is that the U.S.-China relationship has deteriorated to a level worse than before the establishment of diplomatic ties in the 1970s. Deng Xiaoping sought President Carter’s help to allow Chinese to study in America, but now it has reached a point where science and engineering students are being expelled from the U.S., which is truly astounding. The relationship between China and the U.S., which many generations of leaders worked hard to establish and maintain, has been destroyed almost overnight.
- Investments in Russia, even with significant financial commitments, did not yield support from Putin in China’s time of difficulty.
- The national economy is on the verge of collapse.
As of 2024, four years have passed since 2020, and during this period, China has fallen into deeper turmoil. Private enterprises faced severe crackdowns, and the aggressive “zero-COVID” policy led to multiple protests in late 2022, with many calling for the end of communist rule.
- Hong Kong Feels the Impact as Foreign Investors Vacate China
- ‘We Don’t Want the Communist Party’: Chinese Rise Up Against ‘Zero-COVID’ Lockdowns
- ‘The CCP Regime Will Fall Like the Tyrannical Dynasties of Old’: Chinese Quit the Communist Party
A recent article titled “Beijing Has Never Been This Depressed Before” (北京從來沒有像現在這麼蕭條過) has garnered widespread resonance. The article notes that Beijing’s economy, once robust, is now facing challenges. The Internet technology industry in the high-end Haidian district has declined, the financial district in Xicheng is dead under strict regulation, and the education industry, also concentrated in Haidian, is similarly in a bad way.
Cultural industries such as film, music, art, media, which gathered in Chaoyang, are now struggling, and even Chaoyang’s foreign investment sector, once strong, is facing difficulties. Lastly, the once-thriving tourism industry is now experiencing a decline as fewer people visit the Chinese capital.
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Netizens’ comments reflected similar bleak situations in other “first tier” Chinese cities.
A user going by the handle “Boston Boy” wrote about the “unexpectedly depressed” state of Shanghai, and noted that Shenzhen seemed even worse off.
“The international airports in Beijing and Shanghai were unbearable. Many duty-free shops were closed, and there was only one VIP lounge open,” they wrote.
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“Kohler C” described a trip to Beijing last October:
“The decline shocked me,” the post read. “This time when I returned to Beijing, I specifically went to Zhongjie [a major avenue] for a visit and found that the entire Yong’anli Zhongjie was deserted. The Pu Ke Long supermarket, rice shops, fruit stores, hair salons, vegetable stalls, and Xianghe meat pie shops that had been open for over twenty years were all closed. The once glorious Li Ka-shing’s Wangfujing Oriental Plaza has turned into a grocery store…”
According to an article posted by “Chu Bailiang,” the day after Xi Jinping took power as general secretary of the CCP, dozens of professors, lawyers, and retired officials gathered in a Beijing hotel to urge the Chinese government to embrace political liberalization as a remedy for the Party’s rampant corruption and abuse of power.
Though Xi did clamp down on corrupt officials, he insisted on continuing and intensifying the Communist Party’s authoritarian repression. The waste and abuses under his leadership have engendered significant discontent among both the officialdom and the general Chinese public, with many hoping for Xi’s and the CCP’s downfall.