Home News Anger over China’s “zero Covid” policy mounts after a deadly fire

Anger over China’s “zero Covid” policy mounts after a deadly fire

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A deadly fire in Xinjiang, northwest China, has sparked outrage on social media over its hardline politics “Zero Covid” practiced by Beijing, which netizens accuse of slowing down the rescue.

China’s state news agency Xinhua reported that ten people were killed and nine injured in a residential building fire on Thursday in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province.

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Since Friday, messages circulating on social networks in China and abroad claim that the city’s Covid-19 lockdowns have impeded firefighters’ arrival at the scene of the tragedy. Meanwhile, videos showed groups of people taking to the streets of Urumqi to protest the restrictions.

Photos posted on social media and partially verified by AFP show hundreds of people gathered at night in front of the Urumqi municipal building, chanting: “Remove the closures!”

“Shanghai is no better than Pyongyang”: in China, the scourge of the “Zero Covid” policy

In another video, dozens of people can be seen walking through a neighborhood in the city’s east, chanting the same slogan, before confronting a line of law enforcement officers in virus protection suits and booing profusely.

AFP journalists verified the authenticity of these clips by geolocating the buildings in which they appear, but were unable to determine the exact moment these demonstrations took place.

sequel after announcement

Catch the “rumors”

Outrage flared on social network Weibo on Friday, with some saying that parked electric cars left without power during long confinement periods had blocked fire trucks from accessing a narrow path leading to the burning building.

“I am also the one who threw myself off the roof, who got stuck on an overturned (quarantine) bus, and who came out of isolation at the Foxconn factory.”can we read in a comment referring to several recent incidents attributed to “Zero Covid”.

Chinese authorities, who censor politically sensitive content online, appear to have deleted several posts and hashtags related to the fire early Saturday morning.

Urumqi police said on Weibo on Friday that they had arrested a woman for doing so Spreading rumors on the Internet About the number of fire victims.

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Mayor apologies are extremely rare

An initial investigation showed that the fire started from a row of electrical sockets in a bedroom of one of the flats, according to public broadcaster CCTV.

Rescue attempts were complicated “Lack of parking spaces and a large number of private vehicles parked on both sides” From the alley leading to the building, Li Wensheng, the city’s fire chief, said on Friday, according to CCTV.

Very rarely, the mayor of Urumqi, Maimeming Kade, made his official apology for the fire, according to CCTV.

But authorities have also refuted some claims online that the building’s doors were wired shut to keep residents out during the lockdown.

sequel after announcement

Parts of Urumqi, a metropolis of four million people, have been confined for weeks. But after the protests, the authorities announced on Saturday that the city “Basically reduced social transmissions to zero” And she was going “Restore normal life to the population of low-risk areas in a gradual and orderly manner”.

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Weary is growing in China against the tough policy to fight the epidemic. Sporadic and sometimes violent protests have already occurred in several cities in recent days, including at the world’s largest iPhone factory in downtown Zhengzhou, owned by Taiwanese giant Foxconn.

In China, violent riots broke out at the country’s largest iPhone factory

Despite the availability of many vaccines, and unlike the rest of the world, the Asian country continues to implement strict restrictions to avoid contamination and death.

This policy consists of imposing restrictions as soon as cases emerge, placing people who test positive in quarantine at centers and requiring near-daily PCR tests to gain access to public spaces.

China reported 34,909 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, the vast majority of which were asymptomatic, according to the National Health Commission.

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