Retirees in China Protest Cuts to Medical Benefits

Hundreds of retirees in China have taken to the streets in protest against cuts to their medical benefits. On February 15, 2023, large crowds of elderly people gathered under an overpass in Wuhan and in the coastal city of Dalian to oppose the local government's decision to reduce the monthly allowance for medical expenses. Videos and photos of the protests showed uniformed and plainclothes police officers standing nearby.

The reform was part of an effort to redistribute medical expenses and expand their scope of coverage to include more areas. The move has been met with criticism on social media, where some believe Chinese officials are attempting to recoup the money spent on Covid-19 testing and other pandemic measures.[0]

The demonstration in Wuhan, which was the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic, was the latest sign of public frustration with the government's zero-Covid policy, which was only relaxed late last year.[1] It also comes just weeks before the annual National People's Congress, which will usher in a new leadership team.

Local residents reported that most of the protesters were retired workers from the Wuhan Iron and Steel plant, as well as people from other state-owned enterprises and those whose homes had been forcibly demolished.[2] They are calling for the medical benefits to be restored to 260 yuan ($38) per month, and have threatened to hold an even bigger rally if their demands are not met.[2]

Footage of the incident showed elderly protesters surrounding a police vehicle while singing the Internationale and shouting slogans.[3] It later disappeared from Chinese social media platform Weibo, in an expected move by Beijing, which regularly censors critical posts.[3] Officials in Wuhan and Dalian said they had no knowledge of the protests and had no comment to make.[4]

0. “Retirees in China protest over slashed health benefits” Punjab News Express, 16 Feb. 2023,–199289

1. “Elderly protest health insurance cuts in China's Wuhan” CNN, 15 Feb. 2023,

2. “In Wuhan, thousands of retirees protest slashed medical benefits” Radio Free Asia, 8 Feb. 2023,

3. “Hundreds of retirees in China take to the streets to protest cuts to medical benefits” AOL, 16 Feb. 2023,

4. “Elderly in China protest over slashed health benefits” BBC, 16 Feb. 2023,