When Chinese workers in Belarus recently held a successful strike over unpaid wages, Belarusians realized two things: that Chinese investment was alive and well in the country, and that Chinese workers, unlike their local counterparts, had the wherewithal to stage a strike in the authoritarian country.
On July 2, about 200 workers from a Chinese-funded paper mill in the southeastern Belarusian city of Dobrus took to the streets to protest three-month payment arrears.
First, they walked to the nearest city of Homel.
After marching through the streets for several hours, they decided to cover the remaining 300 kilometers separating them from the capital, Minsk, where they planned to demand a meeting with the Chinese ambassador.
The protesters never made it to Minsk. Chinese diplomats were rushed to Homel, where they were able to persuade them to board a bus back to Dobrus.
The workers are now preparing to go back to the paper mill, their demands for back pay fully met by their employers.
The incident has sparked admiration, glee, and wry wit from Belarusians, who turned to social media to comment on Belarus's new "Made in China" protests.
"Only the Chinese can save Belarus," wrote one Twitter user.
"You were waiting for protests in Belarus? They started today. But it's the Chinese who are holding a Maidan," read another tweet.
"Even the Chinese are not afraid to protest, and you still are," this commentator said.