The massive presence of agents and police forces on the streets of Shanghai And Beijing stopped the protest against the strict anti-Covid containment measures. The checks have intensified in the areas indicated on Telegram as possible meeting points between the protesters. Reports have emerged of people being questioned and searched, whose phones were also checked, according to reports from the BBC.
TO Hangzhou, in the south of the country, officers arrested several people yesterday, blocking a rally in the bud. In recent days, some journalists have also been detained: on Sunday a reporter from Reuters, detained for a short time before being released, then Ed Lawrence, from the BBC, a “shocking and unacceptable” fact underlined by the British premier Rishi Sunak. In this matter, the Chinese ambassador in London was summoned today by the Foreign Office.
The protests against covid restrictionsa nationwide surge not seen since 1989, broke out in various cities across China, over the past weekend. A deadly fire in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, was the catalyst for public anger, after many blamed Covid-19 lockdowns for hampering relief efforts.
Checks in Beijing neighborhoods under lockdown
In addition to the deployment of agents, to nip further demonstrations in the bud, the censorship which hit Chinese social media: tens of millions of posts were filtered, while lo Stanford Internet Observatory noticed a increase in “spam tweets” showing porn content, escort ads and gambling and that they are overshadowing the protest of the Chinese. According to the Observatory, more than 95% of tweets with the search term ‘Beijing’ come from spam accounts that spread information of this type.
Due to Chinese censorship, many citizens have used VPNs to access Internet services and social media such as Twitter and Telegram to organize protests, so much so that – as reported by the TechCrunch site – Twitter has jumped in recent days among the most downloaded apps in China. But the amount of spam makes it more difficult to find legitimate and useful information about the protests and is also impacting users outside of China who are trying to get information on the ground about the events.
Even the media have replaced Covid news with articles on the World Cup and the results of China’s space missions.
The disputes have meanwhile extended to Hong Kongwith dozens of people in the square in the city center and on the campus of the Chinese University as well as in front of the Chinese embassies in London, Paris, Tokyo, and in American and European universities.
In line for the tampon in Beijing
Meanwhile, the country, grappling with a wave of infections, has announced a new plan to accelerate anti-Covid vaccines to increase coverage among the elderly. In the weekly press conference, the National Health Commission reported its intention to strengthen protection even among people aged 60-79. Local officials, in particular, are required to take responsibility for convincing the elderly to undergo vaccines, in a management that will be supported by the processing of big data.