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Protests in China against the lockdown have spread to campuses and communities abroad – SABC News

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Protests against China’s strict no-covid policies and restrictions on freedoms have spread to at least a dozen cities around the world in solidarity with rare shows of defiance in China over the weekend.

Small vigils and protests were held in cities across Europe, Asia and North America, including London, Paris, Tokyo and Sydney. The gathering is a rare occasion for Chinese people at home and abroad to unite in anger.

The protests on the mainland were sparked by a deadly fire in China’s Xinjiang region last week that left 10 people dead and trapped in their apartments.

Since President Xi Jinping came to power a decade ago, authorities have cracked down on dissent by tightening controls on civil society, the media and the Internet.

But strict policies aimed at eradicating COVID with lockdowns and quarantines have become a lightning rod for frustrations.

The policy has kept death rates in China far lower than in many other countries, but at the cost of long periods of incarceration for many millions and damage to the world’s second-largest economy.

However, Chinese officials say it needs to be maintained to save lives, especially among the elderly, given their low vaccination rates. Some foreign protesters said it was their turn to shoulder some of the burden their friends and family had borne.

“This is what I have to do. When I saw so many Chinese citizens and students taking to the streets, I felt that they had taken on much more than us,” said graduate student Chan Sita.

A Chinese foreign ministry official said at a routine briefing on Monday that China was not aware of any overseas protests calling for an end to the zero-Covid policy.

State media and government officials have not made any official comments about the protests in China.

Some blamed President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party and called for their removal from office. Xi’s defiance has become increasingly public after a dissident last month hung a banner on a Beijing bridge ahead of the Communist Party congress criticizing Xi for his grip on power and his zero-Covid policy.

About 90 people gathered at Shinjuku, one of Tokyo’s busiest train stations, on Sunday, including a university student from Beijing who said any protests in China against the COVID rules would inevitably focus blame on the Communist Party.

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