China clamps down on growing Covid protests

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

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

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.

Last weekend’s demonstrations had grown after a fire in a high-rise block in Urumqi, western China, killed 10 people on Thursday.

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.

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.

A small protest in the southern city of Hangzhou on Monday night was also quickly stopped with people swiftly arrested, according to social media footage.

But in Hong Kong, dozens of protesters gathered in the centre of the city and at the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in a show of solidarity with demonstrators in mainland China.

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

BBC

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