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China eases COVID rules after widespread protests over quarantines

China eases COVID rules after widespread protests over quarantines
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BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities have eased some anti-virus rules but reaffirmed a strict “zero COVID” strategy Monday after protests. He demanded the resignation of President Xi Jinping in the biggest show of opposition to the ruling Communist Party in decades.

The government has not commented on the protests or criticism of Xi, but the decision to ease at least some of the restrictions was aimed at defusing the anger. Again, analysts don’t expect the government to back down from its COVID strategy and let’s note that the authorities are adept at suppressing dissenting opinions.

It is unclear how many people have been detained since the protests began on Friday and spread to cities including the country’s financial center Shanghai and the capital Beijing.

The Beijing city government announced Monday that it will no longer install gates to block access to apartment complexes where infections have been detected. He made no mention of A fatal fire last week protests followed questions about whether firefighters or victims trying to escape were blocked by locked doors or other anti-virus controls.

According to the official China News Service, Wang Daguang, a city official in charge of epidemic control, said “Passages must remain open for medical transport, emergency escapes and rescues.”

In addition, the southern manufacturing and commercial metropolis of Guangzhou, the biggest hotspot of China’s latest wave of infections, has announced that some residents will no longer be required to undergo mass testing. He noted the importance of saving resources.

Urumqi, where the deadly fire broke out, and another city in the northwestern Xinjiang region said markets and other businesses in areas considered low risk would reopen this week and public bus service would resume.

“Zero COVID,” which aims to isolate every infected person, has helped keep the number of cases in China low compared to the U.S. and other major countries. But it kept millions of people in their homes for up to four months, and some complained about reliable food shortages and medical supplies.

The ruling party promised last month reduce disruption by changing quarantine and other regulations. But public acceptance then wears thin spike in infections prompting cities to tighten controls.

The number of new daily cases rose to 40,347 on Monday, including 36,525 without symptoms.

The ruling party newspaper People’s Daily called for an effective implementation of the anti-virus strategy, suggesting that the Xi government has no plans to change course.

“The facts have fully proved that every option of the prevention and control plan has withstood the test of experience,” wrote a commentator of the “People’s Daily”.

Protests have spread to at least eight major cities. While most protesters complained about excessive restrictions, some turned their anger on Xi, China’s most powerful leader since at least the 1980s. A crowd in Shanghai on Saturday chanted “Xi Jinping! Step down! CCP! Come down!”

Hours after the police broke up the demonstration, people returned to the same place for another protest on Sunday. Although the exact number is not known, dozens of people were detained during police sweeps and taken away in police vans and buses.

In a sweep witnessed by an AP reporter, officers charged and tackled bystanders at an intersection near the site of earlier protests, though bystanders did not make any visible or vocal protests.

British Broadcasting Corp. said one of its reporters was beaten, kicked, handcuffed and detained for several hours by Shanghai police, but then released.

The BBC has criticized the explanation given by the Chinese authorities that the reporter was detained to prevent the spread of the coronavirus from the crowd. “We do not consider this a plausible explanation,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the BBC reporter was unable to identify himself and “did not voluntarily provide” his press credentials.

“Foreign journalists must consciously follow Chinese laws and regulations,” Zhao said.

Swiss TV channel RTS reported that the reporter and cameraman were detained during the live broadcast, but released a few minutes later. The Associated Press journalist was detained, but later released.

Eyewitnesses told AP about protests in Guangzhou and southwest Chengdu. The videos, which they said were filmed in eastern Nanjing, southwestern Chongqing and other cities, showed protesters in white protective clothing fighting police or tearing down barricades used to cordon off neighborhoods. AP was unable to verify where or when all these protests took place.

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