China’s ongoing Covid lockdowns are fueling increasing public anger, with some residents in Guangzhou, one of the country’s biggest cities, staging rare protests against the stringent rules.
In videos circulating on social media, hundreds of people can be seen marching in the streets and pushing over police barriers in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district, which has been in lockdown since late last month.
The demonstrations took place in several “urban villages,” mainly poorer neighborhoods where migrant workers live, Hong Kong Economic Journal reported. The local government sent multiple police vehicles to the protests, according to the report.
Chinese, particularly those in urban centers, are becoming increasingly agitated after almost three years of restrictions under the country’s Covid Zero policy.
Lockdowns are showing no sign of abating even as authorities ease some curbs, such as shortening the mandatory quarantine period for inbound travelers and scrapping a system where airlines are penalized for carrying infected passengers. Food shortages and difficulty getting timely medical treatment are some of the biggest complaints lodged by those locked into their homes to quell outbreaks.
Few posts discussing the protests — deemed riots by some — could be found on Weibo and WeChat, two of the largest social media platforms in China, where online discussions are often censored to control public opinion. As of Tuesday morning, hashtags on Weibo such as “Guangzhou Haizhu district riot” and “Haizhu riot” remained visible, but posts which could previously be seen were gone.
Guangzhou has locked down two other districts, Panyu and Liwan, with new infections surging to 5,124 on Monday. Huang Kunming, the Communist Party chief of Guangdong, the province where Guangzhou is located, ordered officials to eliminate the virus in communities “as soon as possible,” the Paper reported, citing an internal meeting on Monday evening.
China reported more than 17,000 new Covid cases on Monday, the highest tally since late April.
While Guangzhou accounts for the majority of them, the southwestern megacity of Chongqing also posted a surge to 2,948 cases. State media have been reiterating the country is still adhering to Covid Zero, even as the rising caseloads bring that into question.