Monday, April 22, 2024

COVID protests die down in China

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Protests against COVID restrictions which erupted over the weekend appear to have died down, as a heavy police presence is reported in Chinese cities.

Large barriers have gone up along the main protest road in Shanghai and police have made several arrests.

They have been stopping people taking photos of the protests and deleting pictures on their devices.

Nationwide protests grew after a fire in a high-rise block in Urumqi, western China, killed 10 people on Thursday.

It is widely believed residents could not escape the blaze because of COVID restrictions, but local authorities have disputed this.

A BBC journalist was detained while covering a protest in Shanghai on Sunday. Ed Lawrence was beaten and kicked by the police during his arrest, and held for several hours before being released.

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly tweeted that the arrest was “deeply disturbing”.

China remains the only major economy with a strict zero-COVID policy, with local authorities clamping down on even small outbreaks with mass testing, quarantines and snap lockdowns.

Many images of anti-lockdown protests have emerged from Shanghai and the capital Beijing, as well as other major urban areas like Chengdu and Wuhan.

Censorship has gone into overdrive on Chinese social media platforms since the weekend’s protests, to stop people seeing and discussing them.

Tens of millions of posts have been filtered from search results, while media are muting their coverage of COVID in favour of upbeat stories about the World Cup and China’s space achievements.

Dozens of protesters gathered in central Hong Kong on Monday, and at the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in a show of solidarity with demonstrations across China. (BBC)

 

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