China’s tough COVID-19 lockdowns are fueling an increase in public anger, with some residents in Guangzhou, one of the country’s biggest cities, staging rare protests against the stringent rules.
In videos circulating on social media, hundreds of protesters were seen marching in the street and pushing over police barriers in Haizhu district, which has been in lockdown since late last month.
The demonstrations took place in several “urban villages,” mainly poorer neighborhoods where migrant workers live, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
The local government sent multiple police vehicles to the protests, the paper said.
Chinese residents are becoming increasingly upset after almost three years of draconian social restrictions under the country’s “zero COVID-19” policy.
Lockdowns are showing no sign of abating even as authorities ease some curbs, such as shortening the mandatory quarantine period for inbound travelers and scrapping a system where airlines are penalized for carrying infected passengers.
Food shortages and difficulty getting timely medical treatment are some of the biggest complaints lodged by those shut into their homes.
Few posts discussing the protests — deemed riots by some — could be found on Sina Weibo and WeChat, two of the largest social media platforms in China, where online discussions are censored to control public opinion.
As of yesterday morning, hashtags on Weibo such as “Guangzhou Haizhu district riot” and “Haizhu riot” remained visible, but posts which could previously be seen were gone.
Guangzhou has locked down two other districts, including Panyu and Liwan, as daily infections surged to 5,124 on Monday.
Huang Kunming (黃坤明), the Chinese Communist Party chief of Guangdong, the province that includes Guangzhou, ordered officials to eliminate the virus in communities “as soon as possible,” the paper reported, citing an internal meeting on Monday evening.
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