China: Police begins clampdown after days of protests

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The weekend demonstrations, a rare sight in China, had grown after a fire in a high-rise block in Urumqi, western China, killed 10 people on November 24…reports Asian Lite News

China’s protests against Covid restrictions which erupted over the weekend appear to have died down, as authorities begin clamping down, the media reported.

A heavy police presence has been reported in several cities, and some gatherings were quelled or failed to materialise, reports the BBC.

Reports have emerged of people being questioned and their phones searched.

But overseas Chinese have continued protesting, in at least a dozen cities across the world.

The weekend demonstrations, a rare sight in China, had grown after a fire in a high-rise block in Urumqi, western China, killed 10 people on November 24.

It is widely believed residents could not escape the blaze because of Covid restrictions, but local authorities have disputed this.

As a result, thousands took to the streets for days, demanding an end to Covid lockdowns, with some even making rare calls for President Xi Jinping to stand down, the BBC reported.

Covid protests widen in China with calls for Xi Jinping to step down

But on Monday, planned protests in Beijing did not happen after officers surrounded the assembly point.

In Shanghai, large barriers were erected along the main protest route and police made several arrests.

On Tuesday morning, police could be seen in both cities patrolling areas where some groups on the Telegram social media app had suggested people should gather again.

Many also gathered outside Chinese embassies in major cities around the world like London, Paris and Tokyo, and universities in the US and Europe.

One expert suggested that local protests were not likely to die down any time soon, saying they were likely to “ebb and flow” because people were “not being called out to the streets in a controlled fashion… they move between social media and the street”.

But Drew Thompson, a visiting senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore, added that it was also important to note that Chinese police had “tremendous capacity… (and) the ability of China to control these protests going forward… is quite high”.

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