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politicsClosed Nov 29, 2022

China Protests Spread to Multiple Cities as Anger Builds Against Covid Zero

  • China is bracing for more vigils, protests today
  • Chinese censors scrub social media of mentions of unrest
  • Weekend saw widespread protests against Covid curbs
  • Public anger stoked by deadly high-rise fire
  • Stocks, yuan drop while oil hits lowest since December
Thank you for joining us. Here’s a broad catch-up on the situation in China and in markets today after protests against the country’s Covid curbs spread to multiple cities.
  • There were mostly peaceful protests and vigils across China over the weekend amid anger at a fatal fire in Urumqi, Xinjiang, where at least ten people died last week. Many people blame Covid barriers for delaying rescue efforts and the escape of residents.
  • Censors are scrubbing social media of references to the protests, while TV bulletins and media have avoided covering the events. Blank screenshots and hand-held white pages have become a symbol of protest, while CCTV appears to be cutting footage of mask-less World Cup football fans in Qatar.
  • Social media posts indicate that at least some people plan to again protest or hold vigils on Monday night. There have also been posts saying police are removing people from places associated with the demonstrations.
  • The BBC has protested after one of its journalists was “beaten and kicked” by police at protests in Shanghai. Nationalist blogger Chairman Rabbit has blamed the protests on “foreign forces”. China’s foreign ministry spokesperson later said the BBC reporter didn’t identify himself.
  • The protests come as Covid cases rise in China, where officials are concerned that -- without curbs -- deaths could surge amid the ageing, inadequately vaccinated population. But officials have called for sensible enforcement of rules, and Beijing banned physical barriers that block fire exits.
  • China stocks dropped with the yuan, dragging down equities across Asia, on investor concern at the unrest in China. Oil tumbled to the lowest level since December -- before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Some investors say the protests could speed China’s exit from Covid Zero.
Updated Nov 28