China Covid: Protesters in China claim police are looking for them

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By Creative Media News

People in China who participated in rallies over Covid restrictions over the weekend say they have been called by police as the government begins to crack down.

Several Beijing residents said that the police had contacted them to inquire about their locations.

It is unknown how law enforcement could have uncovered their identities.

On Tuesday, officials announced that they will accelerate efforts to vaccinate senior citizens. The vaccination rate among the elderly is relatively low.

In recent days, China has registered a record number of new cases.

Thousands of Chinese citizens flocked to the streets over the weekend to demand an end to Covid lockdowns, with some even making the uncommon request for President Xi Jinping to step down.

China covid: protesters in china claim police are looking for them
China covid: protesters in china claim police are looking for them

Monday’s scheduled demonstrations in Beijing, however, did not occur when cops ringed the assembly place. Along the major protest route in Shanghai, police built massive barriers and made many arrests.

Thursday’s fatal fire in a high-rise building in Urumqi, western China, sparked the demonstrations. Many Chinese feel that Covid restrictions led to the deaths, despite denials from the authorities.

When asked if the protests would result in a change to zero-Covid regulations, a Chinese official stated that the country will continue to “fine-tune and tweak” its measures.

Mi Feng, a spokesperson for the National Health Commission, stated during a press conference, “We will maintain and limit the negative impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

On Tuesday morning, police were observed patrolling places in both Beijing and Shanghai where groups on the Telegram messaging app had indicated that people should reassemble.

China covid 2
China covid: protesters in china claim police are looking for them

A tiny protest in the southern Chinese city of Hangzhou was promptly quelled and its participants were arrested on Monday night.

Reports also indicate that authorities were stopping individuals and checking their mobile devices to determine if they were using virtual private networks (VPNs) or apps such as Telegram and Twitter which are restricted in China.

A woman informed the news agency AFP that she and five pals who attended a rally in Beijing had received phone calls from police.

In one instance, a police officer went to her friend’s house after they failed to answer the phone and questioned whether they had attended the protest, emphasizing that it was an “illegal assembly.”

A second source told Reuters that they were summoned to a police station on Sunday night to provide a written account of their conduct.

“We are all anxiously erasing our conversation history,” a protester in Beijing told Reuters. “The police arrived to check the identification of one of my companions and then detained her. Several hours later, she was released.”

In recent days, police have also detained journalists covering the protests. Sunday, a journalist from the news agency Reuters was arrested for a short time before being released.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, described his incarceration as “shocking and inexcusable,” adding that Britain would express its concerns to China regarding its response to the protests.

However, overseas Chinese have resumed their protests in at least a dozen places worldwide.

Many also gathered in front of Chinese embassies in key cities such as London, Paris, and Tokyo, as well as universities in the United States, Europe, and the rest of the world.

One expert predicted that local protests would likely “ebb and flow” since people were “not being invited to the streets in an organized manner… they migrate between social media and the street.”

However, Drew Thompson, a visiting senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore, noted that Chinese police have “tremendous capability… and China’s ability to regulate these protests in the future is extremely high.”

Since the weekend’s protests, Chinese social media sites have ramped up censorship to prevent people from viewing and discussing them.

Tens of millions of posts have been removed from search results, and the media is muting its coverage of Covid in favor of positive news about the World Cup and China’s achievements in space.

On Western social media platforms, where some Chinese citizens have shared information and guidance for demonstrators to avoid detention, the situation is dramatically different.

One Instagram account – a platform that is prohibited in China and can only be accessed with a VPN – issued “safety advise for friends in Shanghai and across the country” that suggested wearing black clothing for incognito and taking along goggles and water in case tear gas is shot.

Adhering to a policy of zero Covid

Chinese officials have hinted that complaints about China’s stringent Covid restrictions are the product of “arbitrary actions” implemented at the local level, as opposed to national directives.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Cheng You Quan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated, “[There is] an excessive practice of containment measures [in some places]… that is not linked with national policy.”

“Local governments should demonstrate greater accountability and adhere to national principles, rather than arbitrarily closing schools and industries. We should identify and humiliate, and if necessary, seek criminal accountability. In the same manner that lockdowns should be swift, so too should their removal.”

China continues to be the only major economy with a rigorous zero-Covid policy, with local authorities cracking down on even minor breakouts with mass testing, quarantines, and sudden lockdowns.

While China has created its Covid vaccinations, they are not as effective as the mRNA vaccines used abroad, such as those manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna.

Two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provide 90% protection against severe sickness or death, compared to 70% for the Sinovac vaccine.

Vaccines have also not been administered to enough individuals. The elderly, who are most prone to die from Covid, have been immunized insufficiently.

As a result of stopping the virus in its tracks, there is also relatively little “natural immunity” among those who survived infections.

It implies that new varieties of the virus are spreading far more rapidly than the virus that debuted three years ago and that there is a continuing risk of its importation from nations that are allowing the virus to spread.

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