Chinese pensioners take to the streets to protest health insurance cuts
Hundreds of pensioners took to the streets in the Chinese cities of Wuhan and Dalian on Wednesday to protest cuts in medical services, according to local residents and posts on social media, after widespread demonstrations against COVID restrictions last year.
In downtown Wuhan, hundreds of mostly elderly people could be seen outside the city’s central Zhongshan Park in video clips posted to social media.
Video from Wuhan, verified by Reuters, showed jostling and jostling between protesters and uniformed security personnel. Reuters could not immediately verify images of Dalian and some others from Wuhan, which were widely shared on social media.
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The demonstrations come weeks ahead of China’s annual parliamentary gathering in early March.
The retirees were protesting local reforms, including a recent cut in the monthly personal medical allowance for retirees from $38 a month to $12 a month, according to Wuhan residents. It followed a protest over the same issue in Wuhan last week.
Some sang songs, including the Internationale, which is popular during protests in China. Others held up phones and recorded the event.
“This money is very little, but for old people it is life-saving money,” said Zhang Hai from Wuhan, who did not attend Wednesday’s protests but said some of his friends did.
“People are not wealthy, so every little bit of money is hugely important,” he told Reuters.
While street protests over local problems in China are not uncommon, Wednesday’s events follow rare demonstrations in November in cities across the country over China’s strict zero-COVID policy, which Beijing abruptly abandoned in December.
The protests come as many local governments are financially strained after COVID containments ravaged the economy and three years of spending on coronavirus controls drained funds.
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In China’s healthcare system, part of the money goes towards a personal medical allowance and other funds are pooled.
Wednesday’s protests in Wuhan and in Dalian, northeast China, drew a heavy security presence, according to videos and images shared on social media.
Local authorities in both cities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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Several Wuhan residents said they believed the police knew about the protest in advance as notices had been circulated on social media advising people not to attend, including one seen by Reuters .
Several of Zhang’s friends who wanted to attend were asked by housing authorities to sign a pledge “not to hold illegal protests, gatherings or demonstrations in public spaces” or to post content about the protest, according to a copy of a statement seen by Reuters has.
They were prevented from leaving their homes by the police, Zhang added.
https://www.foxnews.com/world/chinese-retirees-protest-streets-health-insurance-cuts Chinese pensioners take to the streets to protest health insurance cuts