The demonstration, however small, shows the challenges President Xi Jinping now faces in getting millions of people back to work all while preventing a second wave of infections. Early in the crisis, Xi warned the virus posed a threat to “social stability” in China, and since then he’s seen tensions flare both within the country and with the U.S., its main export market.
The protest in Wuhan this week comes after earlier violent clashes on the border of surrounding Hubei province and neighboring Jiangxi province in late March. Scenes captured on videos posted on social media showed Hubei police clashing with officers from Jiangxi who wanted to keep the border closed.
China has recently signaled its desire to deal with any signs of dissent harshly. Earlier this week, Chinese authorities placed outspoken property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang under investigation after a copy of an essay widely attributed to him criticizing the government’s virus response was circulated on social media.