China still hasn't officially addressed the anti zero-COVID protests that have swept the country

China still hasn't officially addressed the anti zero-COVID protests that have swept the country
People hold white sheets of paper in protest of COVID-19 restrictions in Beijing, China, on November 27, 2022.REUTERS/Thomas Peter
  • Mass protests kicked off in China over its strict COVID-19 policy after 10 people died in a fire.
  • China's government has not acknowledged the protests, even as other governments have.

China's government is yet to officially address the mass protests taking place in the country over its strict coronavirus policies, even as other nations have expressed support for those protesting.

Protests in China started in the western city of Urumqi over the weekend, after 10 people died in a house fire on Friday, and have since spread to other cities, including Beijing and Shanghai.

Videos on Chinese social media show protesters chanting "End the COVID lockdown" and "We are human beings," Reuters reported, with some protesters even calling for the removal of China's President Xi Jinping.

China has cracked down on the protests, with a strong police presence and arrests taking place.

John Kirby, spokesman for President Joe Biden administration's National Security Council, said on Monday that the US supports Chinese peoples' right to protest, though he did not comment when asked about protesters demanding the resignation of China's president.


"Our message to peaceful protesters around the world is the same and consistent: People should be allowed the right to assemble and to peacefully protest policies or laws or dictates that they take issue with," he said.

The UK's foreign minister said on Monday that "protests against the Chinese government are rare and when they do happen I think the world should take notice, but I think the Chinese government should take notice."

Australia's foreign minister said that people should be able to protest freely, adding: "We urge Chinese authorities to engage constructively with protesters and address the concerns they have raised."

There has not been total silence from the Chinese side.

One official at the country's national health commission, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, acknowledged "the problems reported by the people recently," according to a report in The Guardian.


The unnamed official added that the problems were not strictly about "the prevention and control of the epidemic itself", but also issues with implementation at the local level, too-short breaks between lockdowns, and confusion about various rules, the outlet said.

China has a harsh zero-COVID strategy that aims to totally eliminate the virus, which has led to strict lockdowns of whole blocks and even entire cities of millions of people after only a small few cases were discovered.

A heavy police presence on Monday evening meant that planned protests did not take place in some locations, like Beijing, the BBC and Bloomberg reported.