In southern China, residents revolt against COVID-19 controls

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In southern China, residents revolt against COVID-19 controls

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November 16, 20223:18 AM ET

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Residents look out from barriers around the recently locked down Haizhu district in Guangzhou in southern China’s Guangdong province Friday, Nov. 11, 2022.


Frustrated residents in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou smashed temporary barriers and marched through streets in revolt earlier this week against strict COVID-19 controls, according to online videos and reports.

The violence comes just weeks before next month’s third anniversary of the emergence of COVID-19 — and as China continues to follow a hardline policy that has kept its borders largely closed and led to mass lockdowns and travel restrictions affecting hundreds of millions of people around the country.

Last week the central government announced measures to begin to ease its so-called “dynamic zero COVID” policy, which has damaged the economy and taken a toll on public patience and faith in policymaking.


Shanghai residents speak out against China’s zero COVID strategy

But case numbers are spiking, presenting Beijing with a challenge.

Guangzhou, a manufacturing hub with around 19 million people, reported more than 6,200 COVID cases on Tuesday. The city has imposed compulsory lockdowns on wide sections of town, sparking the unrest.

Video online showed residents of Guangzhou’s Haizhu district, largely inhabited by factory workers, knocking down barricades that were put in place to seal off neighborhoods.

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NPR was unable to independently verify the video.

A witness who lives nearby said swaths of the area have been under lockdown for around a month, and stress has been building.

“The population is tense. Staples might be in limited supply for some people. For several nights now I’ve heard outbursts of shouting,” she said.

When contacted by phone, the Haizhu district government did not have an immediate comment.

Guangzhou is not the first place where frustrations over COVID controls have boiled over.

In Shanghai in the spring, the government imposed a two-month lockdown that sparked sporadic clashes with authorities. And earlier this month, there were reports of violence in northeastern China.

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