China Dissent Monitor 2023
Issue 3: January – March 2023
- Two thousand dissent events since June 2022: CDM has documented and analyzed 1,432 dissent events and logged another 798 cases that have not yet been coded, bringing the total number of events to 2,230 between June 2022 and April 2023. This includes 583 events for the quarter from January to March 2023. At least 29,000 people cumulatively have participated in the events that have already been coded. 78 percent were demonstrations and marches, 10 percent were sign protests, 4 percent involved obstruction and occupation, 3 percent were collective petitioning and 3 percent were labor strikes.
- Geographical distribution: The top regions for dissent events are Henan (10 percent of events), Guangdong (9 percent), and Shandong (9 percent). However, the top per capita regions for dissent are Shaanxi (2.86 events per million people), Beijing (2.65), and Shanghai (2.17).
- Spike in labor protests: CDM has captured 370 labor protests between December 2022 and February 2023, more than double the number of labor protests documented during the prior three months. While this reflects a cyclical pattern of dissent over unpaid wages around the Lunar New Year period, it is also influenced by an ongoing fiscal crisis in the property sector and the long-term issue of inadequate labor rights protections.
- Housing protests persist: Demonstrations over stalled housing projects and related grievances have declined relative to their high point last summer, but they continue to be a primary source of dissent. CDM has recorded 218 housing protests since the central government announced measures in November 2022 to address the fiscal crisis in the real estate sector.
- Dissent among persecuted religious and ethnic communities: Despite severe restrictions on religious and ethnic minorities in the PRC, people in these communities continue to push back. Since June 2022, CDM has recorded 34 acts of dissent among Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetans, Christians, Muslims, and ethnic Mongolians. Their resistance is expressed through non-cooperation, artistic expression, online posts, and sometimes offline demonstrations. Members of these communities experienced state repression in 27 of these 34 cases, underlining the severity with which the party-state targets these groups.
- Protester arrest more likely when demonstrating against local government: CDM has documented evidence of repression in one-quarter of dissent events. Further analysis indicates that while local government actors are the target of protest in 29 percent of cases, it is the target in 55 percent of cases that involve arrest or detention of protesters.