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Beijing seems to want to mitigate the “zero coronavirus”

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Will Beijing loosen the screw? Chinese health authorities have given the first signs of a possible relaxation of their strict “zero Covid” policy, after a wave of angry demonstrations against health restrictions and demands for more freedoms.

China causes of revolution

China’s approach to the virus “Face new conditions and new tasks”Speaking Wednesday before the National Health Commission (NHC), Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chunlan said it was thanks to the less dangerous nature of the Omicron variant and vaccination progress. On Tuesday, Beijing has already decided to speed up the vaccination of the elderly, which is still not enough.

sequel after announcement

Sun Chunlan, a central figure in China’s strategy in confronting the pandemic, did not mention the “zero Covid” policy in his remarks – according to comments reported by the state-run New China Agency -, giving hope that this strategy, which for years has upended China’s daily life and economy. Country, will soon be relaxed.

Crowded population

Irritated by repeated bookings and almost daily PCR tests, thousands of Chinese demonstrated last weekend, in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or even Wuhan – where the first cases were discovered in December 2019. For the communist authorities, this is the most widespread wave of A protest against the pro-democracy mobilization in Tiananmen in 1989.

Surprised, they called “repression” to contain this movement, but also seem to give pledge on the health policy front.

Thus, in the major industrial city of Canton (south), where on Tuesday clashes between demonstrators and the police, the confinement that has been in place for several weeks has been lifted, despite record numbers of pollution.

sequel after announcement

Can demonstrations against the ‘zero Covid’ policy make the Chinese regime shiver?

Because, if the numbers are indeed among the highest since the start of the pandemic, they remain minuscule: 35,800 local cases reported on Thursday, among a population of 1.4 billion and with the vast majority of asymptomatic cases.

Restrictions have been eased, to varying degrees, in 11 districts of Guangzhou, including Haizhou, the mobilization hub. Except for a few neighborhoods that were considered “high risk”According to the local health commission, Other areas are being managed as low risk areas..

The city of Chongqing (center) also announced on Wednesday that contacts who meet certain conditions are entitled to home quarantine, a clear change from the policy in place until then that required all positive cases and contacts to go to a quarantine centre.

These inscriptions on the local level, as well as Sun Chunlan’s statements, “It could be a sign that China is beginning to consider ending its strict zero Covid policy”analysts at ANZ Research say in a note.

sequel after announcement

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“We believe that the Chinese authorities are shifting to a ‘live with covid’ strategy, as evidenced by the new rules allowing people to self-isolate at home rather than being transported to quarantine centres.they add.

On Thursday morning, two major Chinese newspapers published statements by experts to reassure that Covid is not serious in the majority of cases, after similar publications in recent days that seem to prepare the population for a change of mentality.

The deadly Urumqi fire

As the third anniversary of the first cases detected in Wuhan approaches, the population is clearly overwhelmed.

A deadly fire in Urumqi, the capital of the northwestern region of Xinjiang, sparked protests over the weekend, with some netizens blaming health restrictions for hampering rescue work.

sequel after announcement

But the demonstrators also chanted political demands, with some even calling for the departure of President Xi Jinping, who was renewed last month for an unprecedented third term. The authorities’ strict control of information and health restrictions on travel within China make it difficult to assess the total number of protesters in the country.

In China, the suicidal arrogance of Xi Jinping

But such a large-scale uprising is rare, given the suppression of any form of direct opposition to the government.

The movements of 1989 ended in a bloody crackdown when the army intervened, notably in Beijing’s famous Tiananmen Square.

On Wednesday, when the death of former President Jiang Zemin, who came to power immediately after Tiananmen, was announced, the Communist Party rightly emphasized its ability to restore calm during this uprising.

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