Police Clash With Protesters Over China's 'Zero-COVID' Policy - What We Know

Chinese citizens took to the streets and universities over the weekend to protest the state's "zero-COVID" policy.

What We Know
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Public protests in China turned political late Sunday, 27 November, with protesters shouting slogans against President Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party. In response, police restrained and arrested several protesters and journalists at the protests in Shanghai.

Why now? The protests come in response to the Chinese government's "zero-COVID" policy, which puts in place extreme movement restrictions and countermeasures if even one case of COVID-19 is reported.

In a rare response, hundreds of people took to the streets of major Chinese cities on Sunday to protest against the country's long quarantines, sudden and repeated lockdowns and mass testing drives. Protesters gathered in Beijing, Wuhan, Chengdu, and other parts of China. But, what led to this public outcry?


The cause? China's "zero-COVID" response has stoked public frustration over the course of the pandemic. These protests, however, began after a fire in the Chinese city of Urumqi on 24 November, which left 10 dead and at least 9 more injured. AFP reported that this was, in fact, the catalyst for the present protests.

But, wait. These weren't the only protests. Earlier on Sunday, more than 200 students gathered at Beijing's Tsinghua University to protest the "zero-COVID" policy, AFP reported.

A purported video from the protests showed students shouting, "Democracy and the rule of law, freedom of expression", and was quickly taken down, AFP added.

Protests took place over the weekend at universities across China including one at Tsinghua's neighbouring Peking University, AFP reported.

What has China's government said? According to AFP, the Chinese government has responded by deploying a large police force in response to the protester presence. Early Monday, 28 November, Reuters reported that police and protesters had clashed in parts, but with no specific details of arrests or detentions.

The Chinese government also blamed 'forces with ulterior motives' for linking the Urumqi fire to COVID-related restrictions.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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