Protests in China: Party leadership threatens to “tough crackdown”

Hundreds of people recently protested against the zero-Covid policy in China, and since then the police have been rigorously trying to prevent further protests.

The party leadership announced tougher action.

After the largest wave of protests in China in decades, the party leadership has now threatened to take more action if the unrest continues. “We must crack down on infiltration and sabotage by enemy forces according to the law,” the Communist Party’s Politics and Law Commission said in a statement, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

“It is necessary to resolve conflicts and disputes in a timely manner and help to cope with people’s practical difficulties,” it said. “Criminal actions that disturb the social order” would also have to be pursued and general social stability effectively maintained.

Blocking, searches and censorship

The statement did not directly address the protests over the weekend against the government’s zero-Covid policy. Hundreds of people took to the streets in several million metropolises in the country, including Beijing and Shanghai, to demonstrate against strict lockdowns, mass tests or quarantine obligations. Numerous people were arrested. They were the largest demonstrations since the democracy movement in 1989, which the military brutally suppressed.

Since the weekend, the police have been trying to prevent further protests with increased numbers, road closures and armored vehicles. Police officers and paramilitary forces carried out random identity checks and searched cell phones for photos of the protests or banned apps. There is a news blackout in China about the protests. Photos and videos that people post about the protests on the internet are being deleted by the censorship authorities.

No departure from zero Covid in sight

China apparently also censors pictures that show how corona measures have already been relaxed in other countries. The viewers of the football World Cup in Qatar, who are sitting in the stadium without a mask, are not shown – unlike when broadcasting to other countries. Instead of the fans, the perimeter advertising is shown there, among other things.

So far, the Health Commission has not announced any departure from the strict measures. China is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of the coronavirus since the pandemic began. A new high was reported on Sunday with more than 40,000 new infections. Since then, the number of infections has decreased slightly, according to the health commission.

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