new fights erupted between protesters and police in the southern Chinese city of Guangdong, despite authorities calling for “strong measures” to suppress a wave of nationwide protests against coronavirus restrictions and for greater freedoms.
The Chinese authorities face the largest protest movement since the democratic demonstrations of 1989, brutally repressed.
In this context of tension, Beijing awaits the visit of the President of the European Council Charles Michel this Wednesday, who will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday.
China’s top security body on Tuesday called for “strong measures” afterward several days of protests in major cities across the country against nearly three years of severe COVID-19 confinements, amid public frustration with China’s political system.
Demonstrations erupted in Beijing and other cities this weekend, including Shanghai and Wuhan, taking China’s powerful security apparatus by surprise.
Arrests and violence in Guangzhou
Although the authorities have strengthened the fence to prevent new concentrations, they were registered on Tuesday night clashes between protesters and police in Guangzhouaccording to witnesses and videos posted on social networks and authenticated by AFP.
The footage shows police officers dressed in full-protective white coveralls and equipped with riot shields advancing in single file along a road in Haizhu District.
Screams are heard in the videosas the orange and blue barricades are torn down.
The images also show the arrest of a dozen men who were taken away with their hands handcuffed.
A Guangzhou resident surnamed Chen told AFP on Wednesday that he observed about 100 policemen in Houjiao village in Haizhu district, where They arrested at least three men Tuesday night.
Several districts in Guangdong lifted restrictions in some narrow areas on Wednesday afternoon, authorities announced.
The city’s college students said they saw each other forced to leave their bedrooms Tuesday night or that they were facing quarantine, according to social media posts.
Following last weekend’s protests on college campuses, an increasing number of universities have done so declared the early start of the holidaysforcing students to return to their homes.
The trigger of the protests
The trigger of this national mobilization was the fire of an apartment building in Urumqi, capital of the northwestern region of Xinjiang, in which 10 people died.
On social media, users said the help has been slow to arrive due to restrictions health, which the authorities have denied.
But the protests have also taken a political turn, with some demonstrators Request for the resignation of President Xi Jinping.
In Beijing and Shanghai, the massive police presence has discouraged any attempt to demonstrate. But sporadic rallies were held on Monday and Tuesday.
At the oldest university in South Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous territory, a dozen people led a crowd in protest chants: “give me freedom or give me death!”
“We are not foreign forces, we are Chinese citizens. China must allow different voices to be heard,” said one protester.
In Hangzhou, 170 kilometers southwest of Shanghai, small demonstrations erupted on Monday night, despite the police presence.
A witness said that “about 200” police and law enforcement officers surrounded the protesters, before load the protesters into a van.
The authorities’ tight control of information and health restrictions on travel within China make it difficult to assess the total number of protesters in the country.
But such a widespread uprising is rare, given the crackdown on any form of open opposition to the Chinese government.
While Beijing maintains its strict health policy for now, there have been some signs of easing in recent days.
Even the authorities have promised accelerate vaccination of the elderly. The insufficient vaccination rate in China, especially among the elderly, is one of the government’s arguments for maintaining its measures.
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.