Retirees in China protest over slashed health benefit


Retirees in China protest over slashed health benefit Crowds of retirees in China have again taken to the streets to protest against cuts to their medical benefits, the media reported.

They gathered on Wednesday for a second time in Wuhan, where Covid was first detected, and also in the north-eastern city of Dalian, BBC reported.

The second round of protests in seven days puts pressure on President Xi Jinping’s administration just weeks before the annual National People’s Congress, which will usher in a new leadership team, BBC reported.

Protests first took place in Wuhan on February 8 after provincial authorities said they were cutting the level of medical expenses which retirees can claim back from the government.

Social media footage shows the protesters to be largely elderly retirees, who say this comes at a time of soaring healthcare costs, BBC reported.

Although such health insurance matters are handled at a provincial level, protests have spread to different parts of the country in what appears to be a renewed belief in the power of demonstrating in China.

At the end of last year, thousands of young Chinese took part in protests that eventually forced the government to overturn its strict zero-Covid measures – people had grown weary of the mass testing and sudden, sweeping lockdowns that had been smashing the economy.

The changes to health benefits for retirees, which officials have described as reforms, come just as China emerges from that brutal Covid wave.

The plan has been sold as a means of trading off reimbursement levels to increase the scope of coverage to include more areas. However criticism of plan on social media has included the widely held view that Chinese officials are trying to recoup the vast amounts of money spent on compulsory Covid testing and other pandemic measures, BBC reported.


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