Rallies against China's unusually strict anti-virus measures spread to several cities over the weekend

Protests Hit Hong Kong Following Mainland Demonstrations Against China's Covid Rules

Students in Hong Kong chanted “oppose dictatorship” in a protest of China’s COVID-19 rules Monday after demonstrators on the mainland issued an unprecedented call for President Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of opposition to the ruling Communist Party in decades.

Rallies against China’s unusually strict anti-virus measures spread to several cities over the weekend, and authorities eased some regulations, apparently to try to quell that public anger. But the government showed no sign of backing down on its larger coronavirus strategy, and analysts expect authorities to quickly silence the dissent.

With police out in force Monday, there was no word of protests in Beijing or Shanghai. But about 50 students sang at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and some lit candles in a show of support for those in mainland cities who demonstrated against restrictions that have confined millions to their homes. Hiding their faces to avoid official retaliation, the students chanted, “No PCR tests but freedom!” and “Oppose dictatorship, don’t be slaves!”

The gathering and a similar one elsewhere in Hong Kong were the biggest protests there in more than a year under rules imposed to crush a pro-democracy movement in the territory, which is Chinese but has a separate legal system from the mainland.

“I’ve wanted to speak up for a long time, but I did not get the chance to,” said James Cai, a 29-year-old from Shanghai who attended a Hong Kong protest and held up a piece of white paper, a symbol of defiance against the ruling party’s pervasive censorship. ”If people in the mainland can’t tolerate it anymore, then I cannot as well.”

It wasn’t clear how many people have been detained since the protests began Friday, sparked by anger over the deaths of 10 people in a fire in the northwestern city of Urumqi. Some have questioned whether firefighters or victims trying to escape were blocked by locked doors or other anti-virus controls.

Without mentioning the protests, the criticism of Xi or the fire, some local authorities eased restrictions Monday.

The city government of Beijing announced it would no longer set up gates to block access to apartment compounds where infections are found.

“Passages must remain clear for medical transportation, emergency escapes and rescues,” said Wang Daguang, a city official in charge of epidemic control, according to the official China News Service.

Guangzhou, a manufacturing and trade center that is the biggest hot spot in China’s latest wave of infections, announced some residents will no longer be required to undergo mass testing.

Urumqi, where the fire occurred, and another city in the Xinjiang region in the northwest announced markets and other businesses in areas deemed at low risk of infection would reopen this week and public bus service would resume.

“Zero COVID,” which aims to isolate every infected person, has helped to keep China’s case numbers lower than those of the United States and other major countries. But tolerance for the measures has flagged as people in some areas have been confined at home for up to four months and say they lack reliable access to food and medical supplies.

In Hong Kong, protesters at Chinese University put up posters that said, “Do Not Fear. Do Not Forget. Do Not Forgive,” and sang including “Do You Hear the People Sing?” from the musical “Les Miserables.” Most hid their faces behind blank white sheets of paper.

“I want to show my support,” said a 24-year-old mainland student who would identify herself only as G for fear of retaliation. “I care about things that I couldn’t get to know in the past.”

University security guards videotaped the event but there was no sign of police.

At an event in Central, a business district, about four dozen protesters held up blank sheets of paper and flowers in what they said was mourning for the fire victims in Urumqi and others who have died as a result of “zero COVID” policies.

Police cordoned off an area around protesters who stood in small, separate groups to avoid violating pandemic rules that bar gatherings of more than 12 people. Police took identity details of participants but there were no arrests.

Hong Kong has tightened security controls and rolled back Western-style civil liberties since China launched a campaign in 2019 to crush a pro-democracy movement. The territory has its own anti-virus strategy that is separate from the mainland.

On the mainland, the ruling party promised last month to reduce disruption by changing quarantine and other rules. But a spike in infections has prompted cities to tighten controls.

On Monday, the number of new daily cases rose to more than 40,000, including more than 36,000 with no symptoms.

The ruling party newspaper People’s Daily called for its anti-virus strategy to be carried out effectively, indicating Xi’s government has no plans to change course.

“Facts have fully proved that each version of the prevention and control plan has withstood the test of practice,” a People’s Daily commentator wrote.

Protests also have occurred in Guangzhou near Hong Kong, Chengdu and Chongqing in the southwest, and Nanjing in the east, according to witnesses and video on social media.

Most protesters have complained about excessive restrictions, but some turned their anger at Xi, China’s most powerful leader since at least the 1980s. In a video that was verified by The Associated Press, a crowd in Shanghai on Saturday chanted, “Xi Jinping! Step down! CCP! Step down!”

The British Broadcasting Corp. said one of its reporters was beaten, kicked, handcuffed and detained for several hours by Shanghai police but later released.

The BBC criticized what it said was Chinese authorities’ explanation that its reporter was detained to prevent him from contracting the coronavirus from the crowd. “We do not consider this a credible explanation,” the broadcaster said in a statement.

Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian said the BBC reporter failed to identify himself and “didn’t voluntarily present” his press credential.

“Foreign journalists need to consciously follow Chinese laws and regulations,” Zhao said.

Swiss broadcaster RTS said its correspondent and a cameraman were detained while doing a live broadcast but released a few minutes later. An AP journalist was detained but later released.

___

Associated Press writer Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed.

I flew to Turkey for a new set of teeth – trolls say I’m a Katie Price wannabe with piano tiles but I don’t care

Lateness matters, your honors: Judges must not violate court rules related to their campaigns

My car insurance costs me £150 a year extra due to ‘unfair’ rules – five ways to avoid the ‘poverty premium’

How to save a Google Doc on your computer or smartphone

When it comes to dating, earning less than $30,000 is a deal breaker, a new survey shows

I’m a savvy shopper… the M&S bargains I swear by – it’s so much cheaper than you think

Love Island fans convinced Casa Amor is about to happen as Maya Jama reveals she’s heading back to the villa

I feel sorry for lost puppy Tommy Fury, he’s trying to figure out life and treated like runt of family, says Jake Paul

Jake Paul sticks by claim Molly-Mae has given birth and claims Tommy Fury will mentally struggle to fight him

Manifestantes “desactivan” gases lacrimógenos en Perú

Officers brought homeless man to remote spot and beat him, prosecutors say

McDonald's Finally Breaks Its Twitter Silence With A Simple Post

Shoppers share their mega TK Maxx sales hauls as they nab yellow sticker bargains like 70p boots & £1.70 designer jeans

I’m a fashion expert and these styles of winter coats are making you look tacky – it’s bad news for quilted coat lovers

Dancing On Ice fans baffled as they spot something very different about Keith Lemon – did you notice?

The Princess of Wales writes an open letter ahead of a new campaign launch

NEWS RELATED

Kelly Cheng, Sara Hughes, beach volleyball’s new sensation, win World Tour Finals

Kelly Cheng, Sara Hughes, beach volleyball’s new sensation, win World Tour Finals In just a few months since reuniting, Kelly Cheng and Sara Hughes have become not just the best women’s beach volleyball team in the U.S., but also, arguably, the world. Cheng and Hughes, former partners who got back together for ...

View more: Kelly Cheng, Sara Hughes, beach volleyball’s new sensation, win World Tour Finals

Brie Larson has an existential crisis by questioning the fragile nature of time itself

Brie Larson has an existential crisis by questioning the fragile nature of time itself Time is a fickle and cruel mistress, and it waits for nobody, not even an Academy Award-winning star like Brie Larson. The Marvel Cinematic Universe stalwart appears to be having something of an existential crisis ...

View more: Brie Larson has an existential crisis by questioning the fragile nature of time itself

Steven Spielberg Cast Alden Ehrenreich After Seeing a Bat Mitzvah Video He Made

Alden Ehrenreich broke through to the big time in 2018, landing the leading role in Solo: A Star Wars Story. Many critics and fans appreciated Ehrenreich’s heartfelt performance. And over the past several years, the talented young star has continuously opted for roles that challenge him creatively. Ehrenreich’s own story ...

View more: Steven Spielberg Cast Alden Ehrenreich After Seeing a Bat Mitzvah Video He Made

Parents go wild for Primark’s new kids’ bedroom line, including cute duvet sets, cushions and storage solutions

IT'S becoming more well known for its Home section, with people travelling from far and wide to get their hands on cheap, cute items for their houses. And now Primark has proved that it's also one to be reckoned with in the kids' home section too. Primark has some ...

View more: Parents go wild for Primark’s new kids’ bedroom line, including cute duvet sets, cushions and storage solutions

Man arrested in deadly point-blank shooting in Queens

Man arrested in deadly point-blank shooting in Queens FAR ROCKAWAY, Queens (PIX11) — Police arrested a man on murder charges on Sunday, months after he allegedly fatally shot a man at close range in Queens. Jovan Springer, a 29-year-old Brooklyn resident, was charged with murder and criminal possession of ...

View more: Man arrested in deadly point-blank shooting in Queens

Richard Madeley slammed on Good Morning Britain after he’s forced to apologise twice over Sam Smith blunder

RICHARD Madeley apologised twice today on Good Morning Britain after misgendering pop star Sam Smith and a guest on the show. Sam was assigned male at birth but the 30-year-old singer announced they were non-binary in 2019 and asked people to use they/them pronouns when addressing him. Richard Madeley ...

View more: Richard Madeley slammed on Good Morning Britain after he’s forced to apologise twice over Sam Smith blunder

Robotaxis have a passenger problem that no one thought of

Robotaxis have a passenger problem that no one thought of An issue with self-driving cars has come t0 light that apparently no one previously considered: dozing passengers. Officials in San Francisco, where Alphabet’s Waymo company and GM-backed Cruise are currently operating robotaxi services as part of ongoing trials, highlighted ...

View more: Robotaxis have a passenger problem that no one thought of

All Good: WNBA Has Reported No Positive Coronavirus Tests

Seven players had tested positive for COVID-19 in the days leading up to arriving in Bradenton, but there have been none in the bubble since

View more: All Good: WNBA Has Reported No Positive Coronavirus Tests

Most Adani Shares Continue Bloodbath as Asia's Richest Man Loses $28 Billion in a Month

As Blinken visits, Palestinians say Israeli troops kill a man in the West Bank

Parliament to debate two separate motions on public housing affordability during Feb 6 sitting

Kate Ferdinand shows off growing baby bump after revealing she’s pregnant with second baby

The Masked Singer’s Joel Dommett signs up for new ‘high octane’ ITV game show

Coroner investigating after multiple people found dead inside an Upstate home

Actress Annie Wersching passes away from cancer at 45

Receptionist who thought she ‘might die’ at almost 18 stone aged 40 ‘gobsmacked’ after losing 42% of her body weight

Urban League holds vigil in memory of Tyre Nichols

Loose Women legend Kaye Adams gets her first tattoo to mark turning 60

World Bank: Myanmar economy to grow 3%, dragged by conflict

Hard-up households handed extra time to apply for £300 free cash direct to bank account – can you get it?

OTHER NEWS