The Biden administration is reacting cautiously to China’s protests

The Biden administration is reacting cautiously to China's protests
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“As we said, we think it will be very difficult for the People’s Republic of China to contain this virus with a zero-Covid strategy,” the spokesman said, adding measures such as increasing vaccination rates. was more useful. “We have long said that everyone in the United States and around the world has the right to peaceful protest. This includes the PRC.”

Later in the day, during a press briefing at the White House, NSC communications strategist John Kirby said that Biden had been briefed on the events in China. Kirby acknowledged that Biden warned that the world’s democracies face challenges from autocratic movements, but he refused to back down from the NSC’s comments that the United States supports the right to peaceful protest.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Chris Smith (RN.J.) called the administration’s stance on the protests “cowardly.” The two lawmakers accused Biden of “not standing up to the CCP and standing in solidarity with the Chinese people.” The statement was released on Monday.

As of Monday afternoon in Washington, the number of protesters in Beijing and Shanghai has decreased over the past 24 hours. But the news of the demonstrations spread Hangzhou city On Monday, authorities said they were still unable to quell the anger that brought people to the streets, including calls for an end to Xi’s leadership.

Biden’s aides are well aware that protests can be unpredictable. Protests are not uncommon in China, but they are often limited in scope and location, and the Chinese Communist Party tends to move quickly to quash anything it perceives as a serious challenge to its rule.

A U.S. official familiar with the matter, who, like others for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions, said the Biden administration will have to consider a number of factors when deciding how to respond. For example, a tough statement by the US could lead the Chinese government to focus on the US and claim “foreign interference” instead of addressing the protesters’ frustrations.

Despite the tension, the United States still wants to maintain a baseline of stability and cooperation with China, an important global power and economic partner it seeks help with in everything from pandemic preparedness to combating climate change.

The Biden team’s response to China’s protests is likely to contrast sharply with that Fast and loud support for protests in Iran at a high level, which has been going on since mid-September. But Iran is at best a regional power, its Islamist regime has been an outspoken enemy of America for more than 40 years, and there is little trade or other cooperation between the two countries.

U.S. government officials are nonetheless closely monitoring developments in China, including the government’s treatment of journalists covering the protests, and are engaged in regular interagency discussions about how to respond, the U.S. official said.

The talks included health officials from the Biden administration, who discussed Monday with the NSC their assessment of the Covid-19 situation in China, including the extent to which the virus has spread across the country. China’s rising number of Covid infections suggests the virus is outpacing its current lockdown strategy, and Beijing may have to impose tougher restrictions in the coming days, according to a person with direct knowledge of the talks.

An MTN spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the health debate.

A US official familiar with the matter said that the initial messaging about the NSC-led protests was somewhat difficult due to the Thanksgiving holidays. “It is not the business of the United States to comment on the protests. This is for the protesters,” the official added.

In an apparent response to the protests, Chinese officials have announced some minor changes to their zero-Covid strategy. For example, Beijing officials have said they will not erect gates to block access to residential buildings where infections have been detected. But, According to the media Detailing the changes, there was no sign that the Communist leadership was abandoning its general strategy of isolating every infected person to prevent community outbreaks that could otherwise spread and overwhelm the Chinese medical system.

Xi has amassed extraordinary power in China, stifling opposition along the way. His leadership was confirmed at the Communist Party’s five-year meeting last month. It was astonishing that any Chinese protestors demanded his departure. During that party meeting Xi emphasized his continued support for the zero-Covid policy.

Against the background of the protests, the US embassy in Beijing released information A Covid-centric statement Reassuring American citizens in China that their safety is a top priority. It encouraged them to “keep a 14-day supply of medicine, bottled water and food for yourself and any members of your family.”

In recent weeks, US and European officials have debated whether and how to share vaccines with Beijing. This month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced an agreement to allow German expatriates in China to access mRNA BioNTech screenings. In return, Scholz said he would support regulatory approval of Chinese vaccines in the European Union. China has not approved any mRNA vaccines for use in the country and has instead relied on self-inoculation, which has not been effective in controlling infection rates.

As reports of protests defying Chinese censorship spread online, some US lawmakers made bolder claims. While there is widespread bipartisan antipathy toward Beijing in Congress, Republicans have seemed the most vocal.

“The Chinese people are pushing back against Xi’s authoritarian regime and the #CCP. Americans everywhere stand in solidarity with you…Freedom for China!” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) tweeted.

“CCP is a bad regime” in his tweet Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) “The ongoing protests in Communist China show that the Chinese people are begging for change.”

Protests were held in major urban centers including Shanghai, Beijing, Wuhan, Chengdu and Xi’an.

Chinese security forces have been deployed in large numbers to areas where protests have taken place, but have so far been relatively restrained in their response to the protests. On Sunday, police in Shanghai called on protesters to disperse began to detain the protesters those remaining at the main intersections of the city. The police have it too raise high barriers on selected streets of Shanghai to prevent protesters from returning.

Chinese security forces openly objected to foreign media coverage of the demonstrations. Shanghai Police he was beaten, handcuffed and detained for a short time BBC journalist Ed Lawrence filming the protesters on Sunday. Police later said they were doing it “in their own interest if they caught Covid in the crowd”. The Chinese Foreign Correspondents Club reported on this statement on Monday said that he was “extremely concerned” that the police were targeting foreign media during the protests.

The representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Beijing to respect the right to peaceful protest. “No one should be arbitrarily detained for peacefully expressing their opinion,” OHCHR spokesman Jeremy Lawrence told reporters. Monday.

The Chinese government refrains from directly commenting on the protests. This was reported by Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs He denied knowledge on Monday Protesters demanding Xi’s resignation.

Zhao blamed “ulterior motives” for linking the deadly Xinjiang fire to public outrage over zero Covid protocols. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs interrupted these questions and answers from a transcript of a daily news briefing.

Erin Banjo and Kelly Hooper contributed to this report.

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