Micaela Burrow on November 28, 2022
The Biden administration refused to condemn China’s draconian COVID-19 lockdown policies Monday, even as the Communist Party’s pandemic regime has spurred massive protests across the country.
General Secretary Xi Jinping has championed a “Zero COVID” lockdown strategy that aims to completely eliminate the virus from Chinese society, but also required severe, weeks-long isolation periods that reportedly saw people throw themselves from high-rise buildings in attempt to escape quarantine and authorities welding apartment entrances shut. Thousands of people in cities across the country rose up on Friday in protests that quickly morphed from expressions of dissatisfaction with the Zero COVID policy to rage against the authoritarian regime, according to media reports and videos on social media.
However, the Biden administration has refused to condemn the repressive lockdown policies or China’s response to the protest movement, even after the Daily Caller News Foundation reached out multiple times.
“We’ve said that Zero COVID is not a policy we [are] pursuing here. And as we’ve said, we think it’s going to be very difficult for the People’s Republic of China to be able to contain this virus through their zero COVID strategy,” a spokesperson for the National Security Council told the DCNF. The State Department reiterated that same statement.
Xi’s signature Zero COVID policy involved extensive contact tracing, testing and quarantine measures, often confiningmillions of people to their homes for weeks at a time. Lockdowns led to widespread hunger, medicine shortages, lootingand feelings of social isolation, while the CCP censored online dissent, according to The New York Times. Videos appeared to depict pandemic workers performing mass exterminations of household pets.
After a fire at a residential building in Urumqi, in Xinjiang province, killed at least 10 people on Thursday, social media users shared videos of the burning building and claimed that locked doors, barriers and other COVID-19-related restrictions on building access prevented tenants from escaping or firefighters from reaching the flames.
Protests broke out in Urumqi on Friday, with people reportedly shouting “stop lockdown” and “we are human beings.”
The protests quickly caught on nationwide. Demonstrators in the capital city of Beijing shouted “no to nucleic acid tests yes to freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of cinema, rule of law” early on Monday, according to AFP.
The White House did not respond to questions from the DCNF on whether the U.S. would speak out against China’s authoritarian COVID-19 policies or express solidarity with protesters advocating for liberty.
“We’ve long said everyone has the right to peacefully protest, in the United States and around the world. This includes in the PRC,” the NSC spokesperson told the DCNF.
City authorities responded to the protests by easing some COVID-19 restrictions even as they tightened security measures and searches of personal electronic devices and arresting an unknown number of people.
“To prevent something bloody, it’s very important for the international community to send a strong message to the Chinese government,” Miles Yu, director of the China Center at the Hudson Institute, told the DCNF.
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