COVID protests grow in Guangzhou as anger over China’s lockdown boils over

COVID protests grow in Guangzhou as anger over China's lockdown boils over
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SHANGHAI/BEIJING, Nov 30 (Reuters) – People at a manufacturing hub in China’s Guangzhou clashed with riot police in white hazmat on Tuesday night, as videos on social media showed frustration over strict COVID-19 rules had simmered for three years. pandemic.

Escalation of conflicts in the southern city was noted objections In the commercial center of Shanghai, in the capital Beijing and other cities The weekend was the biggest wave of civil disobedience in mainland China since President Xi Jinping came to power 10 years ago.

Resentment is growing as China’s COVID-hit economy bounces back after decades of rapid growth, underpinning an unwritten social contract between the ruling Communist Party and a population whose freedoms have been sharply curtailed under Xi.

In a video posted on Twitter, dozens of riot police in all-white pandemic gear, holding shields over their heads, surged over what appeared to have knocked down lockdown barriers as objects flew at them.

Later, the police escorted the handcuffed men to an unknown place.

Another video showed people throwing objects at police, while a third showed a tear gas canister being fired into a small crowd on a narrow street, with people then running to escape the smoke.

Reuters confirmed that the videos were filmed in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district, a scene related to COVID. rest two weeks ago, but could not determine when the clips were taken or the exact sequence of events and what led to the confrontations.

Social media posts said the clashes happened on Tuesday night and were sparked by a dispute over locking objects.

The government of Guangzhou, a city hit hard by the latest wave of infections, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The China Dissent Monitor, run by Freedom House, which is funded by the US government, estimates that at least 27 demonstrations took place in China between Saturday and Monday. Australia’s ASPI think tank held 43 protests in 22 cities.


Guangzhou, home to many migrant factory workers, is a sprawling port city north of Hong Kong in Guangdong province, where authorities announced late Tuesday that they would allow close contacts of COVID cases to quarantine at home rather than forcing them to go to shelters.

The decision broke the usual practice under China’s zero COVID policy.

In the city of Zhengzhou, the site of a large Foxconn factory that makes Apple iPhones, which has been the scene of worker unrest over COVID-19, authorities announced that businesses, including supermarkets, gyms and restaurants, were reopening in an “orderly manner”.

However, they also published a long list of buildings that will remain under lockdown.

Hours before those announcements, national health officials said on Tuesday that China would respond to “urgent concerns” raised by the public and that COVID rules should be implemented more flexibly to suit each region’s conditions.

But as China continues to spread a record number of daily cases of COVID-19, some relaxations appear to be an attempt to appease the public, but officials have begun to do so. look for those in recent protests.

“The police came to my front door to ask me everything and complete a written record,” a Beijing resident told Reuters on Wednesday, on condition of anonymity.

Another resident said that some friends who posted protest videos on social media were taken to the police station and asked to sign a statement saying “they won’t do it again”.

It was not clear how authorities identified the individuals they wanted to question and how many such individuals the authorities contacted.

Beijing’s Public Security Bureau did not comment.

On Wednesday, several police cars and security personnel were deployed on a bridge east of Beijing where a protest had taken place three days earlier.


In a statement that did not refer to the protests, the Communist Party’s top law enforcement body said late Tuesday that China would resolutely suppress “infiltration and sabotage activities by enemy forces.”

The Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission also said that “illegal and criminal acts that violate public order” will not be tolerated.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that rights and freedoms should be exercised within the framework of the law.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that protesters in China should not be harmed.

Despite China largely isolating itself from the world and demanding significant sacrifices from hundreds of millions of people to comply with brutal testing and prolonged isolation, COVID has spread.

While the number of infections and deaths is low by global standards, analysts say reopening before increasing vaccination rates could lead to widespread illness and death and overwhelm hospitals.

The shutdowns have hit the economy, disrupted global supply chains and roiled financial markets.

Data on Wednesday showed China’s manufacturing and service activity for November showed the lowest readings since Shanghai’s two-month lockdown began in April. read more

Chinese stocks (.SSEC), (.CSI300) was steady with markets suffering from endemic economic weakness against hopes that public pressure could push China to finally reopen.

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, noted a possible decrease in China’s growth forecasts.

Additional reporting by Eduardo Baptista and Yew Lun Tian in Beijing; Written by Marius Zaharia; Edited by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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