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In China, at least two people were arrested in Shanghai the day after unprecedented demonstrations

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In the aftermath of unprecedented demonstrations, which were held on Sunday in several cities in China against health restrictions, the Chinese authorities were trying to curb the angry movement on Monday, November 28, assuring that its “fight against Covid-19 will be[it] a success “.

A police presence was visible in Beijing and Shanghai on Monday morning, near the places of gatherings the day before, according to journalists from Agence France-Presse (AFP). At least two people were arrested in Shanghai, near Urumqi Street, where a rally was held on Sunday. One of the two people had no “did not obey our provisions”explained a policeman to AFP.

the British media group BBC said on Sunday that one of its reporters, who was covering the protests in Shanghai, had been arrested and “hit by the police”. The BBC said to itself “very concerned about the treatment of journalist Ed Lawrence who was arrested and handcuffed”. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the journalist did not identify himself and did not present his press accreditation. Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian asked foreign media to “Abide by Chinese laws and regulations when [de leur séjour] in China “.

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A BBC spokesman said he had no “no official explanation or apology from the Chinese authorities, beyond an assertion by officials, who later released him, that they had arrested him for his own good in case he caught Covid [au milieu] a crowd “. “We do not consider this to be a credible explanation”he added. “At least one national [chinois] was arrested after trying to stop the police from beating me”, tweeted Mr. Lawrence on Monday. These violences are “unacceptable” and “concerning” denounced British Enterprise Minister Grant Shapps. “Whatever happens, freedom of the press must be sacrosanct”said the minister on private radio LBC.

Easing of health restrictions in Urumqi province

The Shanghai police, questioned several times, had still not answered Monday on the number of people detained during the weekend. A crowd of demonstrators, responding to calls on social networks, took to the streets on Sunday, particularly in Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan, catching the police off guard. Among the slogans chanted in unison: “No Covid tests, we are hungry! », “Xi Jinping, resign! CCP [Parti communiste chinois], get out! » Where “No to confinements, we want freedom”.

By its extent on the territory, the mobilization seems the most important since the pro-democracy riots of 1989. It is the culmination of popular discontent which has continued to rise in recent months in China, one of the only countries in the world to still apply a strict zero Covid policy, with repeated confinements and almost daily PCR tests of the population.

The deadly fire in Urumqi, capital of Northwestern Xinjiang Province, has sparked anger among many Chinese, with some blaming health restrictions for blocking relief work. Beijing estimated that “forces with hidden motivations” established this link. However, several health restrictions have been eased in the province. Urumqi residents, some of whom have been confined to their homes for weeks, will now be able to travel by bus to run errands in their neighborhood from Tuesday, officials announced Monday during a press conference.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers China: in Shanghai, hundreds of young people demonstrate against the zero Covid policy after the tragedy in Urumqi

Parcel deliveries can resume, they added, but logistics workers will have to remain on duty. ” closed circuit “ in company dormitories. Certain essential businesses located in areas with “low risk” can request to resume operations (at 50% capacity), while public transport and flights will begin “to be resumed in an orderly fashion”officials had said a day earlier.

But the demonstrations this weekend have also brought out demands for more political freedoms, even for the departure of the president, Xi Jinping, who has just been reappointed for a third term as head of the country. One of the streets occupied by the crowd during the night was, on Monday, surrounded by blue palisades along the sidewalks to prevent any new gathering. Near the Liangma River in Beijing, where more than four hundred young Chinese gathered for several hours on Sunday evening to cries of “We are all people of Xinjiang! »police cars were parked and officers were patrolling along the canal.

Social media censorship

Censorship caught up with social media where any information about the protests appeared to have been scrubbed on Monday. On the Weibo platform, a sort of Chinese Twitter, searches “Liangma River” and “Urumqi Street” did not give any result related to mobilization. Chinese authorities’ strict control over information and health restrictions on travel within the country make it difficult to verify the total number of protesters over the weekend.

But such a widespread uprising is extremely rare in China, given the crackdown on any form of opposition to the government. Demonstrations also took place in Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong, but also in Wuhan, a city in the center of the country where the world’s first case of Covid-19 was detected almost three years ago.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers In China, riots at the world’s main iPhone factory reveal the limits of zero Covid

the People’s Daily published, on Monday, a text warning against the “paralysis” and the “weariness” in the face of the zero Covid policy, without however calling for an end to it. “People have now reached a boiling point because there is no clear direction on the way forward to end the ‘zero Covid’ policy”Alfred Wu Muluan, an expert in Chinese politics at the National University of Singapore, told AFP. “The party underestimated the anger of the population”he adds.

The World with AFP

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