China Lifts COVID Restrictions in Response to Protesters
(LibertySociety.com) – On November 30, The Guardian reported that the Chinese government finally lifted its draconian COVID-19 restrictions in both Chongqing and Guangzhou. The abrupt and unexpected action followed escalating fights between protesters and police. The United States and Canada encouraged Chinese officials to let their people peacefully protest and to avoid hurting or intimidating them as they spoke out against the COVID-19 policies. Wang Dan, who was a prominent figure during the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, also issued a warning directly to Chinese President Xi Jinping not to harm the protesters, or it would be the end of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
It’s unclear if Wang’s words, international pressure, or the protests themselves had an influence on China’s decision to back off. Perhaps all three contributed.
What Caused the Protests?
On November 30, as COVID-19 cases began to surge across China, the government decided to quickly crack down on its citizens to stop the spread. The policies were so extreme that many were restricted to their homes for months. On November 24, a fire broke out in one of the locked-down apartment buildings in Urumqi, and because nobody could readily escape, 10 people died. These senseless deaths sparked protests across the nation, calling for Xi to reverse the policy. Some even called for his removal from office.
Eased Restrictions for Some
The Chinese government announced it would remove the overbearing COVID-19 restrictions for about 50% of the districts in Guangzhou and would allow those in Chongqing to be in close contact with each other unless someone is confirmed to have the virus. Just because authorities are lifting the lockdowns, however, doesn’t mean cases are lessening. In fact, coronavirus illnesses are still going up in many parts of the country, and the CCP did not ease restrictions for all areas.
The night before the lift, police and protesters went toe to toe in Haizhu, and it wasn’t the first time. Throughout November, the two sides have scuffled a few times, with neither police nor protesters showing signs of backing down. Videos of authorities in hazmat suits walking down the streets with shields played on social media showing the civil uprising and pushback from the government are likely far from over. That city remains under lockdown as the COVID-19 surge continues in the area.
Although some regions saw relief this week, experts believe China may have to keep most of its restrictive policies in place through 2023 or until much of the older population is vaccinated. If that’s true, what will that mean for the interactions between protesters and police going forward?
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