Zero Covid policy in China: Police prevent more protests

Status: 11/29/2022 2:07 pm

After renewed calls for protests in China, police responded with a massive deployment. The first wave of resistance may now slowly die down. Even after the arrest of a reporter, the British Foreign Office is still silent.

Over the weekend, China’s leaders faced the biggest wave of protests in decades. He has now responded: The police prevented further protests with massive stoppages and blockades. Earlier there were calls for new protests on social media.

In Chinese metropolises such as Shanghai, Hangzhou and the capital Beijing, police officers are increasingly stationed in university districts or squares and in restricted streets before gatherings. On several occasions, passers-by were stopped and had to show their smartphones.

Restricted VPN and messengers

Among other things, police officials asked them to delete pictures of recent protests. Police also reportedly checked to see if the ban was on phones that installed VPN programs that could be used to evade state censorship.

Young Chinese in particular organized weekend demonstrations using encrypted messengers such as Telegram and distributed images and videos of protests on platforms such as Twitter. Both services cannot be used in China without VPNs.

Britain appoints Chinese ambassador

A BBC reporter was also briefly arrested over the weekend. The British Foreign Office has now summoned the Chinese ambassador over the incident. “We have made it clear that this behavior by the Chinese authorities is completely unacceptable,” the PA news agency quoted government sources in London as saying.

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According to the BBC, the cameraman was assaulted by police officers while filming a demonstration. A spokesperson for the State Department justified the arrest by saying that the reporter did not identify himself as a journalist and did not voluntarily show his press card. Also, Reuters news agency quoted the Department of External Affairs as saying that journalists should not engage in activities unrelated to their role.

“Dissatisfaction with eating in this setting”

According to Mikko Huotari, an expert at the Mercator Institute for China Studies, China will “dramatically increase” its police force in the next few days and control social media more closely. “In this regard, this first wave is expected to slow down for the time being, and not function in this particular way,” he says. Daily topics.

But while the protests initially posed no threat to China’s president, Xi Jinping, “a creeping and ever-growing discontent is now entering the system,” Houdari says.

China has again announced more vaccines

In a press conference, China’s health commission did not promise to deviate from the strict zero-covid policy. Instead, it was announced that a vaccination campaign for the elderly would be encouraged, as had happened many times before. Currently, only 40 percent of people over the age of 80 are vaccinated three times.

After a steady rise in the number of infections nationwide, the health authority has now reported a slight decrease in new infections to 38,400 cases for the first time. The previous day’s peak was over 40,000. However, infections continue to rise in the capital.

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The lower the vaccination rate, the higher the number of infections

For nearly three years, the state and party leadership stuck to its zero-covid policy. China is currently experiencing the largest outbreak of the coronavirus since the pandemic began. According to experts, this is mainly due to low vaccination rates.

Across the country, millions of people are still affected by strict lockdowns, mandatory quarantines, mass testing and travel bans. Apart from grocery stores, most restaurants, shops, schools and offices are also closed. As a result, China’s economy is increasingly strained.

With information from Benjamin Eisel of Beijing’s ARD Studio

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