Chinese authorities on Wednesday abruptly announced the end of part of the lockdowns against the spread of the coronavirus in force in the big city of Guangzhou, where there were clashes between the police and people demonstrating to oppose the restrictions on Tuesday evening. Mass swabs have also been suspended to test the city’s population, despite the fact that the number of positive cases is growing.
Some parts of the Haizhu district, where yesterday’s clashes took place and many others in the last month, remain under lockdown. Guangzhou has 13 million people, of whom nearly 2 million live in Haizhu alone.
The protests in recent days, both in Guangzhou and other cities in China, are extraordinary for several reasons. Contrary to popular belief, and despite the repression by the Communist Party, protests and demonstrations are quite frequent in China: but they are all in all isolated events, which concern small groups of people and always well-defined instances, such as the workers of a factory demonstrating for a salary increase. Now, however, the protests are general: they involve tens of thousands of people, scattered in various cities even thousands of kilometers away, who contest the government’s measures, and this is exceptionally rare. Moreover, the protests are also the demonstration of a wider discontent against the government, so much so that the demonstrators chanted explicitly anti-regime slogans, such as “Xi Jinping, resign”, in reference to the country’s president.