China Crackdown On Massive Protests
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
BEIJING (Worthy News) – Chinese security forces have increased their presence in several cities after days of protests against strict COVID-19 lockdowns turned into the largest anti-government rallies in years.
The crackdown came as Britain’s recently elected prime minister warned that the “golden era” of relations with China is over, as the increasingly authoritarian nation has become a threat to the British democratic system.
Rishi Sunak made the remarks in his first foreign policy speech, given at the ‘Lord Mayor’s Banquet’ in London, amid Western concerns about China’s reported harsh treatment of protesters and critical journalists.
He said China had “chosen to crack down further, including by assaulting a BBC journalist,” who was detained and beaten while covering a protest in Shanghai, China’s largest city and financial hub.
The journalist, Ed Lawrence, was held for several hours before being freed, several sources said. China denied wrongdoing, saying he hadn’t presented his press credentials.
Yet, the incident underscored broader measures to limit the biggest challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since becoming president in 2013.
Witnesses saw large barriers along the main protest road in Shanghai and said police made several arrests.
Footage showed anti-lockdown protests in Shanghai and the capital Beijing, as well as other major urban areas like Chengdu and Wuhan.
On Tuesday, protests appeared less visible as the central government used security forces to stop people, including those taking photos of the demonstrations. Police were also seen deleting pictures on people’s devices, such as smartphones.
Nationwide protests grew after a fire in a high-rise block in the western Chinese city of Urumqi killed ten people on Thursday.
Demonstrators say the victims could not escape the blaze because of COVID-19 restrictions, and footage showed fire engines initially being unable to reach the fire.
Chinese authorities have denied the high death toll from the fire could be attributed to a lockdown and other pandemic measures.
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