Beijing attempts to walk back on its stringent pandemic measures as uprising has been gaining ground in key cities.
China’s strict zero COVID stance is facing its toughest challenge ever. Protests against the policy took place in numerous cities Monday evening, defying a police crackdown and warnings of retaliation.
Small groups of people rallied in solidarity with protestors in Shanghai, the first major city where marches against the draconian policies occurred, from Hangzhou in the east to Kunming in the southwest and Beijing in the north, by holding up blank paper – a sign of official censorship.
Frustrations about political oppression have also surfaced, with some demanding the removal of the ruling Communist Party and President Xi Jinping.
Local security officers, who appeared to be taken off guard when protests erupted over the weekend, appeared to be more proactive in putting down Monday’s protests.
Government stepping back
Amid the unrest displayed in key cities, many local governments are showing signs of acquiescing to the protests. Public transit in Urumqi reopened partially on Monday, with delivery services resuming on Tuesday. A district in Guangzhou’s economic hub where there had recently been a surge of infections declared Monday that elders, students, and individuals who worked from home would be excused from mass testing unless they needed to access public venues.
The southwestern metropolis of Chengdu canceled the construction of a huge facility designed to hold more than 10,000 people, indicating that mass centralized quarantine may be on its way out. While in Beijing, officials pledged not to lock down residential buildings for more than 24 hours at a period.
Facing unrest, mainland China instead touted its vaccination progress on Tuesday, claiming 65.8% of people over 80 had already received booster shots, up from 40% as of November 11. The announcement came with a fresh push to encourage the Chinese elderly to get themselves further vaccination boosters.
The Asian nation recently announced 40,347 new coronavirus cases in a day, a new high. In Beijing alone, 3,888 new cases were recorded, an increase of 304% from the previous week.
Xi’s unprecedented third term as president ushered in a new makeup of the country’s highest decision-making body, including appointing Communist Party Secretary of Shanghai Li Qiang as his premier.
Although Li earned a reputation for being business-friendly while serving in senior positions in China’s coastal industrial powerhouses, his harsh two-month lockdown of Shanghai earlier this year prompted uncommon flare-ups of social unrest as citizens battled to acquire food and medicine.
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