China is sending university students home and is using censorship to snuff out protests against the zero-COVID” policy while hinting at relaxing the stringent policy to reduce its impact on society and the economy.
Students from the university were exiled and security forces are being deployed in large crowds on the streets of the capital city of Beijing in Beijing and Shanghai to crush dissent after days of protests over the government’s strict Covid-like control measures.
The control of media is also in high gear following the massive protests that broke out following the tragic fire that destroyed an apartment building that was a high-rise in Urumqi which is the capital of the Xinjiang region, claiming the lives of 10. Tensions grew as purported footage of the incident was criticized for suggesting that a lockdown hindered the rescue efforts.
The protests gradually became widespread to more than 12 cities, and China used detention and surveillance to thwart further protests amid an unprecedented increase in Covid cases across China.
Although authorities have relaxed some Covid restrictions, like mandatory testing and long quarantine periods in some regions, they have maintained that the ‘zero-Covid’ policy is here to stay.
On Sunday, protesters in Shanghai demanded President Xi Jinping’s resignation in the biggest show of public dissent in decades, indicating that after over three years of zero-Covid policy, residents in mainland China are growing weary of snap lockdowns, lengthy quarantines and mass testing campaigns.
With police out in force, there was no word of protests on Tuesday in Beijing, Shanghai or other major mainland cities. In Hong Kong, about a dozen people, mostly from the mainland, protested at a university and that was it.
Police vehicles have blanketed potential protest sites and officers are searching some residents’ phones for prohibited apps such as Telegram. Officials are going to the homes of “would-be protesters” to warn them against illegal activities and are taking some away for questioning, a US media report said, adding that censors are scrubbing protest symbols and slogans from social media.
CHINA SENDS STUDENTS HOME
Beijing’s Tsinghua University, where students joined in protests against Covid lockdowns holding blank sheets of paper, and other schools in the capital have sent students home.