Zero-COVID anger boils over in China
Zero-COVID is driving some people to do things they normally wouldn’t dare in authoritarian China.
On Monday night, scores of residents trying to escape lockdown in the 13-million strong southern megacity of Guangzhou clashed with cops. Although local protests against zero-COVID are fairly common, even in tightly controlled China, this one is significant for two reasons.
First, they rarely turn violent, but this time the protesters overturned a police car and tore down COVID control barriers — an act of defiance that could put them behind bars for years. Second, the demonstrators — mostly migrant laborers from China’s poorer provinces whose food supplies are running low — apparently reacted to an online rumor that Chinese pharmaceutical companies were faking COVID positive results to inflate case numbers and make more money.
A similar conspiracy theory spurred a mass exodus of employees from China’s largest iPhone factory two weeks ago. Beijing relaxed some zero-COVID measures on Friday, but the bulk of the policy remains in place — with no end in sight.