BEIJING ( Associated Press) – More Chinese cities eased some COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday as police patrolled the streets to quell protests and the country’s ruling Communist Party paid tribute to late former President Jiang Zemin. Prepared for the state funeral.
Guangzhou, in the south; Shijiazhuang, in the north; Chengdu and other large cities in the southwest announced they would relax their requirements for diagnostic tests and movement checks. Bus services resumed in some places and markets opened.
The ads made no mention of protests last weekend in Shanghai, Beijing and at least six other cities against the human cost of anti-virus restrictions that confined millions of people to their homes. But the timing and publicity of the decisions suggested President Xi Jinping’s government was trying to quell public discontent after some protesters incited calls for Xi to step down.
There were no signs of protests amid the heavy police force on Thursday. There were complaints on social media that police were randomly stopping people to check their phones, possibly searching for banned apps such as Twitter, which some users said violates the Chinese constitution.
“Above all, I am afraid of becoming a ‘Xinjiang model’ and being discovered under the pretext that we are running,” said a message signed by Qi Xiaojin on the popular Sina Weibo platform, referring to the country’s northwestern region. were staying.” Uighurs and other Muslim minorities live under intense surveillance.
Protesters have used Twitter and other foreign social media to publicize their protests, while the Communist Party in China removes videos and photos from services.
The government on Thursday recorded 36,061 new cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, including 31,911 asymptomatic ones.
Meanwhile, Beijing was preparing for the funeral of Jiang, who was the leader of the ruling party until 2002 and president until the following year. The party announced that he died on Wednesday in Shanghai of leukemia and multiple organ failure.
As is tradition in China, no foreign dignitaries were invited to the event. The party has not yet announced a date for the funeral or clarified how it will be affected by the virus probe.
Xi’s government has vowed to reduce the disruption of its “zero COVID” strategy with fewer lockdowns and other changes. But he says he will stick to a policy that has at times closed schools and businesses and cut off access to entire neighborhoods.
Protests erupted on Friday after at least 10 people died in a fire at an apartment building in Urumqi, Xinjiang. This raised questions about whether firefighters or victims who tried to escape had encountered blocked doors or other restrictions. The authorities denied this, but the deaths became a focus of public frustration.
The government says it is making its restrictions more targeted and flexible, although a surge in infections since October has forced local officials, who risk losing their jobs if outbreaks occur in their areas, to enforce those restrictions. has inspired what some see as excessive and destructive.