Emboldened China Protesters Test Xi’s Resolve After Covid Pivot

(Bloomberg) -- Even before millions of Chinese citizens started heading back to their home villages for Lunar New Year, tensions were brewing across the nation over annual bans

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boiled over in early January, when residents of a central Chinese city flipped over a police car during a heated altercation with law enforcement over the right to set off

fireworks, a traditional practice to banish bad luck and usher in a new year. While people usually complain about the curbs, the response this year was unusually

violent.  What’s even more surprising is how quickly the government backed down. Even though the suspects were swiftly nabbed by the authorities, cities across China — from

the central metropolis of Zhengzhou to Kunming in the southwest — started lifting fireworks restrictions in some urban areas during specified hours.  The swift retreat

underscores how much Chinese President Xi Jinping and his coterie are concerned with a potential backlash as families reunite all across the nation just weeks after he abruptly

lifted Covid restrictions. With a deluge of cases, crowded hospitals, overwhelmed crematoriums and a struggling economy, residents will have plenty to talk about — and none of it

makes Xi look great.