China: Retirees Protest Plan to Cut Health Benefits

    China: Retirees Protest Plan to Cut Health Benefits
    Last updated Feb 16, 2023
    Image credit: Reuters [via BBC]


    • Hundreds of Chinese retirees in Wuhan and the northeastern city of Dalian demonstrated for a second time on Wednesday to protest government cuts to their medical benefits. This comes weeks before the annual National People's Congress, which will result in the PRC's new leadership.
    • In both cities, the protesters sang "The Internationale," a communist anthem, while others reportedly chanted "down with the reactionary government!" Videos on social media showed protesters scuffling with security forces, but the footage has not been fully verified.
    • The cuts were first announced late last year and center around the costs of medical care for the elderly while ensuring continued prosperity and care for the general population.
    • According to Wuhan residents, the monthly personal medical benefit allowance for retirees, which, before the cuts, was 260 yuan — around $38 — is now 83 yuan — about $12.
    • Wednesday's protests come only a few months after rare demonstrations in November in cities across the country regarding China's "zero-COVID" policy, which Beijing eventually abandoned the following month.
    • A report released via a PRC government website addressed retirees' complaints, saying that, though there had been a reduction in monthly medical benefits, retired workers would have better access to healthcare and they would actually save money.


    Pro-China narrative

    Though no one likes when their benefits are being cut, China is in a tough situation socially and economically. In addition to the long-known fact that the population is rapidly aging, China's zero-COVID policy took a serious toll on the economy, especially on a local level. The reforms will give retirees additional benefits that will hopefully counteract the decrease in available monthly funds.

    Anti-China narrative

    While the sick and old are facing what amounts to austerity measures on their healthcare, party officials have access to generous medical treatments at public cost without having to pay for basic healthcare insurance. Retirees were already struggling before these cuts to their benefits, and now they will have to be even more frugal to survive.

    Establishment split



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