Chinese authorities have relaxed anti-virus measures in some places, but reiterated the country’s strict “zero COVID” strategy on Monday, after crowds called for President Xi Jinping to resign in protest of controls limiting the confinement of the country. China.
The government has not commented on the protests or criticism of Xi, the largest demonstration in decades of opposition to the country’s ruling Communist Party. There is no official figure on how many people have been arrested after police used tear gas on protesters in Shanghai and had trouble containing protests in other cities, including the capital Beijing.
The Beijing city government has announced it will no longer place access doors in apartment buildings where infections have been detected. He made no mention of a deadly fire last week that sparked the protests, after people online indignantly asked whether firefighters or people trying to escape had encountered locked doors or other anti-virus measures.
The “zero COVID” policy, which aims to isolate all infected people, has helped keep infection numbers in China lower than in the United States and other large countries. But in some places people have been confined indoors for up to four months and there have been reports of irregular food supplies.
The government last month promised to ease complications with changes to lockdowns and other measures. But discontent is growing after an outbreak of infections forced cities to tighten controls, prompting complaints that excessive zeal in fighting the public hurts people.
The number of daily cases rose to 40,347 on Monday, including 36,525 without symptoms.
The ruling party newspaper People’s Daily called for the anti-virus strategy to be implemented effectively, suggesting that Xi’s government has no plans to change course.
“Events have shown that every version of the prevention and control plan has stood the test of practice,” wrote a columnist for the newspaper.
Also on Monday, the commercial and manufacturing metropolis of Guangzhou in the south, where the infections are now concentrated, announced that some residents would no longer have to undergo mass testing, which it attributed to the need to conserve resources.
Protests have spread to at least eight major cities after at least 10 people were killed in a fire at an office building in Urumqi, northwestern Xinjiang region, on Thursday.
Most protesters complained of excessive restrictions, although some chanted slogans against Xi, the most influential leader in China since at least the 1980s. In a video verified by the Associated Press, a crowd in Shanghai chanted “! Xi Jinping!” Resignation! CCP! Resign!”, alluding to the Communist Party.
Police used tear gas to disperse the demonstration, although people returned to the same site on Saturday for another protest. A reporter saw several people transferred to a police bus after being arrested.
Elsewhere, social media videos claiming to show Nanjing, to the east; Chongqing and Chengdu in the southwest and other cities showed people clashing with police in white protective suits or people dismantling barricades that seal off neighborhoods. The Associated Press was unable to verify that all of those protests took place or where they occurred.
The government had previously faced criticism over the deaths of two children whose parents said they were having difficulty getting urgent medical attention due to anti-virus measures.
Urumqi and a smaller Xinjiang city, Korla, have announced that markets and other businesses will reopen this week in areas considered to be at low risk of contagion and normal bus service will be restored, in an apparent attempt to appease the population.
There was no indication that residents in high-risk areas could leave their homes.