Three people who attended the weekend protests in Beijing against the Covid-19 curbs told Reuters that the Chinese authorities have begun an investigation into some of the people who gathered there. Despite the presence of numerous police officers on the streets of the city, the protests continued.
In one instance, a caller in the Chinese capital who claimed to be a police officer asked the protester to show up at a police station on Tuesday to give a written record of their Sunday night activities.
In another instance, a student’s college contacted them to inquire whether they had been to the scene of the events and to provide a written account.
Unidentified Beijing protester told Reuters, “We are all desperately deleting our chat history.”
Police are simply too numerous.One of my friends was taken away after the police arrived to verify her identity.We have no idea why.After a few hours, they released her.
— Edward Lawrence (@EP_Lawrence) November 28, 2022
A request for clarification from the Beijing Public Security Bureau was unanswered.A representative for China’s unfamiliar service said privileges and opportunities should be practiced inside the system of the law.
Over the weekend, widespread protests broke out in cities thousands of miles apart due to simmering dissatisfaction with stringent Covid prevention policies three years into the pandemic.
The largest wave of civil disobedience in mainland China since President Xi Jinping took office a decade ago comes as the number of Covid-19 cases reaches record daily highs and new lockdowns are in place in large parts of several cities.
According to a health official, complaints regarding Covid controls center primarily on their rigid implementation.
Cheng Youquan stated to reporters, “The problems highlighted by the public are not aimed at the epidemic prevention and control itself, but focus on simplifying measures for prevention and control.”
Despite China’s extensive isolation from the outside world and demands of its populace to comply with frequent testing and prolonged isolation, Covid has spread.
One of China’s sharpest growth slowdowns in decades has been exacerbated by the lockdowns, which have destabilized global supply chains and financial markets.
After the authorities announced plans to increase the vaccination rate among the elderly, shares in China and elsewhere surged on Tuesday on expectations that the country may be on the way to loosening restrictions.
Reuters was unable to independently verify social media videos that showed hundreds of police occupying a large square in Hangzhou, the capital of the eastern Zhejiang province, on Monday night, preventing people from gathering there.
In one video, police were seen making an arrest while others attempted to release the person being detained amid a small group of people holding smartphones.
The police in Hangzhou did not immediately respond.
Police were patrolling areas in Shanghai and Beijing where groups on the Telegram messaging service had suggested that people meet again.There were no gatherings on Monday night because of the police presence.
Philip Qin, a 22-year-old Beijing resident, described the large number of police officers on the streets as “really scary.”
According to residents, police have been asking people passing through those areas for their phones to see if they have the Telegram app and virtual private networks (VPNs), which protesters have used.
The Telegram app is blocked from the internet in China, and VPNs are against the law for the majority of people there.
During the Sunday night demonstrations in Shanghai, police took away a busload of demonstrators.
The protests were sparked by a fire that broke out last week in the western city of Urumqi, killing ten people, according to authorities.
According to some internet users, the Covid lockdown made it difficult to rescue people from the burning building.That has been refuted by officials.
According to a person who attended one of the campus memorials for the victims in Chengdu, the capital of the province, students from several colleges in the Sichuan province were asked by their teachers who the primary organizer was.
This week, prominent nationalist bloggers like Ren Yi, the grandson of Communist Party leader Ren Zhongyi, and Yu Li, who writes under the pseudonym Sima Nan, claimed that the protests were sparked by “foreign forces.”
What are they there for?On the one hand, it’s to make internal conflicts worse.In contrast, Ren wrote in his “Chairman Rabbit” blog, “It is to see if they can completely politicize the issues around our epidemic prevention and health policies.”
Chinese authorities have accused “foreign forces” of instigating the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019 and regularly issue warnings that “foreign forces” are threatening national security.
According to Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, “Blaming it on foreign forces is a standard tactic.”This is how the party avoids accountability and gathers support.
Officials claim that China’s Covid policies have prevented millions of deaths elsewhere by keeping the death toll low to the thousands.According to a lot of analysts, easing the policy before increasing vaccination rates could result in an overwhelming number of illnesses and deaths for hospitals.
People’s Daily, the Party’s official newspaper, urged citizens to “unswervingly implement” Covid policies in an editorial on Tuesday that did not mention the protests.
It stated, “You have to grit your teeth more as it gets harder.”