Protests have been erupting across China in recent days over the Communist Party’s COVID zero policies that remain in place nearly three years into the pandemic. While much of the world has opened up, China still has strict testing requirements and institutes shutdowns when there are localized outbreaks. Chants across the country include, “step down, Xi Jinping! Step down, Communist Party!” also “we don’t want COVID tests, we want freedom!” and “we don’t want dictatorship, we want democracy!” The police have been responding to the protests forcefully, and videos show officers in some cases beating and arresting demonstrators. Widespread and long-lasting protests are rare in China. It remains to be seen whether these demonstrations will be quashed or if they will lead to Xi Jinping’s government beginning to relax some of its strict COVID policies.
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