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05 February, 2023
 
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China: Protesters are summoned to present their case

Those who took part in a protest march against the measures are receiving phone calls from Chinese authorities.

Source: REUTERS, FAZ, LE MONDE, WASHINGTON POST

Even though they were not identified during the protests, those who attended this weekend's protests in China have received phone calls from the authorities in recent days. It was not surprising that the Chinese authorities have a method of identifying those involved in demonstrations, just as it was expected that the demonstrations, the largest in a decade, have been completely silenced by the Chinese media.

Yesterday, police were stationed in the cities where demonstrators had gathered on Saturday, preventing any resumption of the protests. Simultaneously, the university colleges where the students had rioted were temporarily closed, with officials announcing that classes and exams would be held online.

According to a leading article in the Shenhua Agency, the coronavirus pandemic "has had some impact on social production and life." "In the face of the pandemic's complex challenges, authorities at all levels should be more patient and alleviate people's feelings," the article continued. Protests against draconian restrictive measures that have pushed the Chinese population to its breaking point come as infections remain high. Yesterday, 38,500 positive cases were reported, which is an extremely high number by national standards. Restrictive measures have prevented millions of coronavirus deaths while causing other types of side effects, depriving patients suffering from other diseases of care, and causing an increase in social problems and mental illness.

If a person who has used the subway tests positive, those who have been on the same train are identified and are required to lock themselves in their homes and come out only after a series of positive tests. It also relies on armies of officials dressed in white uniforms who serve the incarcerated by delivering food and other necessities to their doors. According to the German FAZ correspondent in Beijing, residents of quarantined buildings protested yesterday, and white-suited officials also protested - albeit with a different demand, that they be paid their wages.

The authorities did not rule out the possibility of some of the measures being relaxed. Officials in Beijing announced that residential buildings would not be closed for more than 24 hours, while construction of a massive quarantine center in Chengdu, China's southernmost city, was halted. This could be an indication that the policy of mass quarantine is being reconsidered. In an indirect acknowledgment of the protests over the fire that broke out in the city of Urumqi in Xinjiang and killed ten people, the authorities also reminded people that blocking fire exits is a criminal offense.  After rumors spread that the trapped people would have been saved if not for the restraining order, the incident sparked a wave of protests. "We always study and make adjustments to protect people's interests as much as possible while minimizing the impact on the country's economic and social development," Mi Feng, spokesman for the National Health Commission, said yesterday.

Government supporters

Pro-government bloggers took on the task of commenting on the protests in the absence of official statements. "We see the same poison as in Hong Kong," claimed a Fudan University blogger. "Young people who do not have any local characteristics but speak with a Hong Kong or Taiwanese accent and appear Western. A classic example of a "color revolution," "According to the French newspaper Monde, the commentator argued. In recent days, the Chinese press has been filled with comments on the corruption and avarice of the laboratories performing COVID tests in order to direct the outrage at less politically sensitive targets.

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