Covid curbs spark unrest in China

Published November 16, 2022

BEIJING: Crowds of people in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou crashed through Covid barriers and marched down streets in chaotic scenes on Monday night, according to videos posted online, in a show of public resentment over coronavirus curbs.

Among the latest outbreaks in China, Guangzhou’s is the largest, with new daily infections of Covid-19 topping 5,000 for the first time and fuelling speculation that localised lockdowns could widen.

Videos widely shared on Twitter showed noisy scenes in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district of people charging down streets and remonstrating with white hazmat-suit-clad workers.

Twitter is blocked in China, and several hashtags related to the topic of “riots” in the area were scrubbed from China’s Twitter-like Weibo by Tuesday morning. Neither the Guan­gzhou city government nor the Guangdong provincial police responded to Reuters’ requests for comment.

“It was quite tense out there last night. Everyone made sure their doors were locked,” said a Guangzhou resident who uses the name Chet and lives about a kilometre from where the protest took place. He said local chat groups and social media feeds had been flooded with videos and pictures of the episode.

“When it happened so close to me I found it really upsetting. I couldn’t sleep last night after watching those images,” said Chet, whose residential compound has been locked down for about 20 days.

On Tuesday, China reported 17,772 new local Covid-19 infections for Nov 14, up from 16,072 a day earlier and the most since April, even as many cities scaled back routine testing after authorities announced measures last week aimed at easing the impact of heavy coronavirus curbs. In the capital Beijing, new infections hit a record 462 for Monday. Major cities including Chongqing and Zhengzhou were among the worst-hit.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2022

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