BEIJING: Chinese authorities have begun inquiries into some of the people who gathered at weekend protests against COVID-19 curbs, three people who were at the Beijing demonstrations told Reuters, as police remained out in numbers on the city’s streets.
In one case, a caller identifying as a police officer in the Chinese capital asked the protester to show up at a police station on Tuesday to deliver a written record of their activities on Sunday (Nov 27) night.
In another, a student was contacted by their college and asked if they had been in the area where events took place and to provide a written account.
“We are all desperately deleting our chat history,” one Beijing protester who declined to be identified, told Reuters.
“There are just too many police. Police came to check the ID of one of my friends and then took her away. We don’t know why. A few hours later they released her.”
Beijing’s Public Security Bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Simmering discontent with COVID-19 prevention policies three years into the pandemic ignited into broader protests in cities thousands of miles apart over the weekend.
Mainland China’s biggest wave of civil disobedience since Xi Jinping took power a decade ago comes as the number of COVID-19 cases hit record highs daily and large parts of several cities face new lockdowns.
COVID-19 in China keeps spreading despite the efforts of most of its 1.4 billion people to prevent transmission by adhering to a zero-COVID policy of eradicating all outbreaks and maintaining tight border controls.
The lockdowns have exacerbated one of the sharpest slowdowns in growth China has suffered in decades, disrupting global supply chains and roiling financial markets.
In Hangzhou, the capital of the eastern province of Zhejiang, videos on social media which Reuters could not independently verify showed hundreds of police occupying a large square on Monday night, preventing people from congregating.