Covid protests in China: Clashes erupt in Guangzhou
People in the Chinese city of Guangzhou clashed with riot police in hazmat suits on Tuesday night as authorities investigated more of those who have taken part in a string of protests against the world's toughest Covid restrictions.
The demonstrations, which escalated over the weekend as they spread to Shanghai, Beijing and elsewhere, are one of the biggest acts of public defiance seen since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.
The southern city of Guangzhou became the latest to announce an easing of curbs yesterday, but with record numbers of cases nationwide, there seems little prospect of a major U-turn in a policy that Xi has said is saving lives and has proclaimed as one of his political achievements.
Announcing the lifting of lockdowns in parts of Guangzhou, authorities did not mention the protests and the district where Tuesday's violence flared remained under the tight controls.
Meanwhile, EU chief Charles Michel set off for Beijing on Tuesday, maintaining plans to meet President Xi Jinping despite the turmoil of large-scale protests in major Chinese cities, reports AFP.
In one video of those clashes posted on Twitter, dozens of riot police clad in white protective suits and holding shields over their heads, advanced in formation over what appeared to be torn down lockdown barriers as objects flew at them.
Police were later seen escorting away a row of people in handcuffs.
Another video clip showed people throwing objects at the police, while a third showed a tear gas canister landing amidst a small crowd on a narrow street, sending people running off to escape the fumes.
Reuters verified that the videos were filmed in Guangzhou's Haizhu district, the scene of Covid-related unrest two weeks ago, but could not determine when the clips were taken or the exact sequence of events and what sparked the clashes.
Social media posts said the clashes took place on Tuesday night and were caused by a dispute over lockdown curbs.
The government of Guangzhou did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
China Dissent Monitor, run by US government-funded Freedom House, estimated at least 27 demonstrations took place across China from Saturday to Monday. Australia's ASPI think tank estimated 43 protests in 22 cities.
As well as the easing of curbs in Guangzhou, in Zhengzhou, the site of a big Foxconn factory making Apple iPhones that has been the scene of worker unrest over Covid, officials announced the "orderly" resumption of businesses, including supermarkets, gyms and restaurants.
However, they also published a long list of buildings that would remain under lockdown.