Biden administration reacts with caution to China protests

“As we have said, we think it will be very difficult for the People’s Republic of China to contain this virus through their non-Covid strategy,” the spokesperson said in a statement, and suggesting that measures such as increasing vaccination rates. was more effective. “We have long said that everyone has the right to protest peacefully, here in America and around the world. This is in the PRC.

As of midday Monday in Washington, the number of protesters in Beijing and Shanghai had decreased over the previous 24 hours. But the news of the shows spread to the city of Hangzhou on Monday said authorities had failed to quell the unrest – including calls to end Xi’s leadership – which had brought people to the streets.

Biden’s aides are well aware that the protest movement will not go unnoticed. Protests in China are not unusual, but they are limited in scope and location, and the Chinese Communist Party moves quickly to quash any perceived serious challenge to its authority.

A U.S. official familiar with the matter, like others for this story who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal negotiations, said the Biden administration had to consider a number of things to decide how to respond. Strong US rhetoric, for example, leads the Chinese government to shift focus to the United States and call it “foreign interference” rather than addressing the grievances of the protesters. .

Despite the upheaval, the United States still wants to maintain a level of stability and cooperation with China, a world power and economic partner that needs everything from disaster preparedness adapt to combat climate change.

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The response of the Biden team to the Chinese protests will be very different with his fast and vocal support at high levels for the protests in Iran, which have continued since mid-September. But Iran is at best a regional power whose Islamic government has been an enemy of the United States for more than 40 years, and there is little trade or other cooperation between the two countries.

Officials across the U.S. government are closely monitoring developments in China — including how the government is treating journalists covering the protests — and are taking part in the discuss the response, said the US official.

The discussions included Biden administration health officials on Monday when they briefed the NSC on their assessment of the Covid-19 situation in China, including a debate over the extent to which the virus will continue to spread. virus across the country. The rising number of Covid-19 deaths in China suggests that the virus has outgrown the current lockdown strategy, and Beijing may be forced to implement stricter restrictions in the coming days. , according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

An NSC spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on health-related information.

The initial notice of the protests, which led the NSC, was somewhat complicated by the Thanksgiving holidays, said a US official familiar with the matter. “It is not for the United States to talk about the protests. For the protestors,” said the officer.

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In response to the protests, Chinese officials have announced some minor changes to their anti-Covid strategy. Officials in Beijing, for example, have said they will not erect gates to prevent access to housing developments where infections have been found. But, according to media reports showing the changes, there is no sign that the Communist leadership is abandoning the general strategy, which aims to isolate infected people in order to contain the outbreaks of society as much as possible. spreading and disrupting the Chinese medical system.

Xi is a powerful figure in China, blocking any disputes along the way. His leadership was confirmed last month at the Leadership Group’s meeting held every five years. The fact that Chinese protesters are calling for him to leave is amazing. At the party meeting, Xi emphasized his continued support for the non-Covid policy.

Amidst the protests, the US Embassy in Beijing released a statement focusing on Covid telling American citizens in China that their safety is a priority. It encouraged them “to keep 14 days of medicine, water, and food for you and all the members of your family.”

In recent weeks, US and European officials have discussed how to distribute vaccines to Beijing. This month, German President Olaf Scholz announced the agreement to allow German citizens to enter China to participate in the mRNA BioNTech blast. In return, Scholz said he would support the legalization of Chinese vaccines in the European Union. China has not approved mRNA vaccines for domestic use, instead relying on its own vaccine, which has been ineffective in controlling death rates.

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As news of the protests spread online, avoiding Chinese protesters, some U.S. lawmakers became more vocal. Republicans have a vocal majority, although bipartisan hostility toward Beijing is widespread in Congress.

“The people of China are pushing back against the dictatorship of Xi, and the #CCP. Americans everywhere stand with you in solidarity… freedom for China! Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) tweeted.

“The CCP is an evil system,” tweeted Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) “Continuing protests in Communist China show that Chinese people are begging for change.”

Protests have taken place in major urban centers including Shanghai, Beijing, Wuhan, Chengdu and Xi’an.

Several Chinese security forces have been deployed to the protest sites but so far they have responded to the protests with resistance. Police have called on protesters to disperse and head to Shanghai on Sunday began arresting protesters remained at the main intersections of the city. There are also policemen high barriers were built on selective streets in Shanghai to prevent protesters from returning.

Chinese security forces strongly objected to foreign media coverage of the demonstrations. The Shanghai police beaten, handcuffed and briefly detained BBC journalist Ed Lawrence was on Sunday filming the protesters. The police later said they did it “for his own good if Covid catches the crowd.” The Chinese Foreign Correspondents’ Club said he was talk on Monday was “deeply troubled” by the police targeting foreign media at the protests.

The Chinese government is preventing direct discussion of the protests. Chinese spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday denied knowing the protesters were calling for Xi to step down.

Zhao blamed the “military and secret agenda” for linking Xinjiang’s deadly fires with public anger over non-Covid measures. China’s ministry removed the questions and answers from its daily press release.

Erin Banco and Kelly Hooper contributed to this report.


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