Despite Chinese President Xi Jinping sending tanks into Xuzhou overnight Tuesday to quash anti-lockdown and pro-democracy protests in the eastern city, new protests continue to crop up across the country, leaving police clashing with protestors in Guangzhou and Xi threatening a brutal “crackdown” which brings back memories of the 1989 student Tiananmen Square uprising that ended when the Chinese government murdered hundreds, possibly thousands, of protestors.
While efforts are being made by the Chinese government to stop the recent rash of protests that were touched off by the deaths of at least 10 people when a fire broke out in a locked-down building, the unrest is still lively enough to reach beyond Chinese censorship firewalls and to the outside world.
Tuesday night, reports and images of the clashes in Guangzhou began to emerge of security forces in white hazmat suits using riot shields for cover as they clashed with protestors and glass broke around them as protestors threw objects before several of them were led away with their hands bound.
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On Tuesday, China’s top security and law enforcement authority, the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission in Beijing, issued a statement saying that the anti-lockdown protests were the work of “hostile forces” and made threats that it would “crackdown on illegal criminal acts that disrupt social order.”
At an event in Hong Kong Tuesday night, a demonstrator shouted his protest to the statement saying, “We are not foreign forces, we are Chinese citizens. China should have different voices.”
While huge protests erupted in Shanghai over the weekend on a street named after Urumqi which is where the deadly fire occurred last Thursday, security forces were able to suppress the demonstration in Shanghai along with protests in Beijing.
Despite multiple mass arrests and threats of retaliation reminiscent of Tiananmen Square against protestors, protests and demonstrations have continued across China, leading Chinese officials to consider easing its zero-Covid policy slightly to reduce public outrage.
On Tuesday, Chinese health officials finally said that they might “fine-tune and modify” the zero-Covid policy in order to mitigate the “negative impact on people’s livelihoods and lives.”
In an Orwellian moment, a woman in Shanghai told Reuters on Wednesday, “This is the first time in my life I’ve done something like this. In my heart, I’ve murmured such things a thousand times, but hearing these slogans suddenly chanted by so many real people was exciting and shocking to me.”
As the remaining protests and demonstrators face tanks rumbling through their streets and clashing with police, the rest of the world silently watches. In an interview this week, John Kirby, the Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the NSC, made it clear that the Biden administration supports the Chines demonstrators ‘right to peaceful protests but refused to support the protestors’ cause.