"I've never forgotten for long at a time that living is struggle.
I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands
moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must
be fought for-whether it's a field, or a home, or a country."
- Thorton Wilder
"Once you fully apprehend the vacuity of a life without struggle, you are equipped with the basic means of salvation."
- Tennessee Williams
"Nothing, I am sure, calls forth the faculties so much as
the being obliged to struggle with the world."
- Mary Wollenstonecraft
If I were advising on an information and influence activities campaign I would start with planting seeds for political defiance and getting Chinese translations of Gene Sharp's seminal work
to the Chines
youth. https://www.aeinstein.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/FDTD.pdf. Flood social media with copies of From Dictatorship to Democracy and let the Chinese youth decide their social contract.
In From Dictatorship to Democracy Gene Sharp described Robert Helvey's political defiance. He writes, "'Political defiance' is nonviolent struggle (protest, noncooperation, and intervention) applied defiantly and actively for political purposes."The term is used," Sharp continues, "principally to describe action by populations to regain from dictatorships control over governmental institutions by relentlessly attacking their sources of power and deliberately using strategic planning and operations to do so."
Coronavirus Crisis Awakens a Sleeping Giant: China's Youth
How the ruling Communist Party manages the coming months will help shape how hundreds of millions of young people see its authoritarian political bargain for decades to come.
Students have flooded social media to organize donations for Chinese doctors battling the coronavirus epidemic. Workers have marched in the streets to demand compensation for weeks of unemployment during citywide lockdowns. Young citizen journalists have taken to YouTube to call for free speech.
coronavirus outbreak has mobilized young people in China, sounding a call to action for a generation that had shown little resistance to the ruling Communist Party's agenda.
For much of their lives, many young Chinese have been content to relinquish political freedoms as long as the party upheld its end of an unspoken authoritarian bargain by providing jobs, stability and upward mobility. Now, the virus has exposed the limits of that trade-off.
Angry and agitated, many young Chinese are pushing back on the government's efforts to conceal its missteps and its resistance to allowing civil society to help.
Some have spoken out about the cost of secrecy, taking aim at censorship and the muzzling of whistle-blowers. Others, by organizing volunteers and protests, have tested the party's hostility to independent groups. Still others have sought to hold opaque state-backed charities to account by exposing how public donations were funneled first to government offices instead of hospitals.
The outbreak has prompted a generational awakening that could match the defining effects of World War II or the 2008 financial crisis and that could
disrupt the social stability on which the Communist Party depends.
"These recent events have made some people see more clearly that criticizing their country does not mean they don't love their country," said Hannah Yang, 34, a Beijing resident who created a channel on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, to share screenshots of censored articles and social media posts. More than 14,000 people have joined.
"One day, there will definitely be a narrative about the recent events in China," she said. "And at the very least we can let other people know exactly what happened here."
As the virus continues to spread globally, similar questions - about trust in government, economic security, way of life - are sure to face young people in many countries.
But they have special resonance in China, for a generation that is largely unfamiliar with the poverty and turmoil that came to characterize the country in the decades after the Communist Revolution.
Unlike the college students whose pro-democracy protests prompted the government's Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, this generation - brought up in a roaring economy, saturated with official propaganda - has shown little opposition to the status quo.
The coming months will test whether the party can assuage young people's newfound concerns, or if
the pressure will build into broader discontent that chips away at the government's legitimacy.
China's recent success in reducing coronavirus infections has helped renew nationalist fervor, despite the severe lockdowns and travel restrictions put in place by the government. If the party is able to restart the economy quickly and restore daily life while countries like Italy and the United States struggle to do so, its promotion of a strong, centralized state could gain even more traction.
But if the pandemic sets off a global recession that saps demand for Chinese goods and ends decades of economic growth in the country, resentment toward the party could build. Already, many young people are concerned about their job prospects as the fallout from the government's containment efforts threatens to cause the first contraction in China's economy since 1976.
"This episode has been traumatic and disruptive to many young people and led them to reflect on their experience and future prospects," said Xueguang Zhou, a sociologist at Stanford University who has written about the Chinese government.
China's leader, Xi Jinping, has vowed to protect workers and to get factories back on track. His government is ramping up nationalistic propaganda, portraying its handling of the virus as a model for other countries. And it is squelching dissent,
targeting citizen journalists who sought to share unfiltered accounts of the crisis in Wuhan as well as critics like Ren Zhiqiang, an outspoken property tycoon who
called Mr. Xi a power-hungry "clown."
Still, the scars of the pandemic, which has killed more than 3,000 people in China, will not easily fade.
Carol Huang, 28, was once largely indifferent to politics, accepting that most people seemed supportive of the party and Mr. Xi.
But recently, Ms. Huang, who is from Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the outbreak began, has taken to battling supporters of the party on social media and defending
Chinese journalists who have criticized the government's response to the outbreak.
"The government thinks, 'Either you listen to me, or you go to hell,'" she said. "There's no neutral ground. This is what I'm trying to change on social media."
Some, like Ms. Yang in Beijing, have set up "cyber-graveyards" to compile news and commentary related to the virus that have been scrubbed off the internet by government censors. At several universities, students organized mass campaigns on social media to solicit donations for hospitals in Wuhan, posting testimonials from doctors and nurses describing a lack of supplies.
Several tech-savvy volunteers
analyzed data from the Wuhan Red Cross and the Wuhan Charity General Association, two government-backed charities that controlled donations meant to help fight the outbreak. They found that the organizations had funneled more money and masks to government offices than to hospitals, and they publicized the details on social media.
A volunteer in Beijing who parsed the Red Cross data said the project was born in part out of circumstance: Nationwide lockdowns forced people to stay home, glued to news and social media reports out of Wuhan, making the cries for help impossible to ignore.
"The people of Wuhan gave onlookers, including myself, a lot of courage," said the volunteer, who normally works as a teacher and who requested anonymity out of fear of government retaliation.
Those who took breaks from their normal routines to volunteer said the epidemic brought them closer to their communities.
As the outbreak worsened in January and officials in Wuhan imposed a lockdown, Lin Wenhua, a freelance videographer in the city, pivoted from producing advertisements to using his camera to document the crisis.
Mr. Lin, 38, posted videos of his conversations with
doctors and nurses who described not having time to rest, and with homeless workers displaced by the epidemic. He attracted a following of more than five million people on Weibo, one of China's most popular social media sites, even as several of his videos were deleted by government censors.
"Human nature has been magnified in this crisis," he said. "You see warm and kind characters, but you also see especially ugly ones."
A few young people have channeled their experiences on the ground into explicitly political appeals.
Li Zehua, a former host on China Central Television, the state broadcast agency, traveled to Wuhan to cover the outbreak as a citizen journalist, interviewing stranded migrant workers and crematory workers. In his
last video, Mr. Li, 25, urged his peers to learn more about China's history.
"I'm not willing to disguise my voice, nor am I willing to shut my eyes and close my ears," he said before two men in plainclothes entered his apartment and the video was cut off. "I hope more young people can stand up!"
Mr. Li has not been heard from since,
nor has Chen Qiushi, another young citizen journalist in Wuhan.
Still, despite widespread criticism of the authorities' early mishandling of the virus, those calling for less censorship and centralized control still probably represent a minority in a country where
strident patriotism is fostered at a young age.
Far wider reaching is the anxiety over the outbreak's economic toll.
In recent weeks, some young people have joined protests to demand compensation for the disruption caused by the virus and the ensuing government lockdowns.
Peng Lun, 28, a clothing seller in the southern city of Guangzhou, joined hundreds of people recently as they marched in the streets demanding reductions in rent for shop owners. He said he and his wife were running out of money for food and shelter.
"Nobody is buying anything anymore," he said. "How are we supposed to survive?"
Experts said China's economy is likely to be the deciding factor in whether young people's social and political engagement would last. While social media activity can be fleeting or censored, unemployment is harder to paper over, said Fengshu Liu, a professor at the University of Oslo who has studied Chinese youth.
"Unemployment, the effects on young people's daily lives - if these issues are not solved in time, there might be some risks," Professor Liu said.
Economic concerns are what preoccupy Mei Qingyuan, a recent college graduate in the eastern city of Hangzhou. During the outbreak, he had to work from home because he was unable to return to an internship in Shanghai. His parents' clothing factory suspended activity with many migrant employees trapped elsewhere.
Still, he considered himself relatively unscathed. His parents' factory has reopened. And though he grieved over the suffering in Wuhan, he has started to move on.
"On the one hand, that makes me sad," he said. "But on the other hand, it's unavoidable. Everyone has their own life."
"And, in China," he added, "paying attention to politics is not necessarily a good thing."
It seems to spread
very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.
Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and
little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions - not just those with respiratory diseases - particularly hard.
What should I do if I feel sick?
If you've been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
If the family member doesn't need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible,
according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there's space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don't forget to wash your hands frequently.
Should I wear a mask?
are divided on how much protection a regular surgical mask, or even a scarf, can provide for people who aren't yet sick. The W.H.O. and C.D.C. say that unless you're already sick, or caring for someone who is, wearing a face mask isn't necessary. And stockpiling high-grade N95 masks will make it harder for nurses and other workers to access the resources they need. But researchers are also finding that there are more cases of asymptomatic transmission than were known early on in the pandemic. And a few experts say that masks could offer some protection in crowded places where it is not possible to stay 6 feet away from other people. Masks don't replace hand-washing and social distancing.
Should I stock up on groceries?
Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves,
the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.
That's not a good idea. Even if you're retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year's worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.
FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.
If you do not read anything else in the 2017 National Security Strategy read this on page 14:
"A democracy is only as resilient as its people. An informed and engaged citizenry is the fundamental requirement for a free and resilient nation. For generations, our society has protected free press, free speech, and free thought. Today, actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies. Adversaries target media, political processes, financial networks, and personal data. The American public and private sectors must recognize this and work together to defend our way of life. No external threat can be allowed to shake our shared commitment to our values, undermine our system of government, or divide our Nation."