China: Protesters clash with Covid enforcement officials in Jinan
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China has blamed “external forces” for its recent protests as the government seeks to quell social unrest in the country. A number of posts on the Chinese social media site Weibo have claimed the US has been interfering in rallies as people fight back against Beijing’s strict zero COVID-19 policies.
Protests were widespread over the country last weekend, however, the turnout has now lessened due to cold winter temperatures and a heavy police presence.
Chinese authorities have not officially commented on these protests, they have warned that “foreign forces” are a threat to national security and claimed they also interfered with democracy protests in Hong Kong before the pandemic struck.
Posts on Weibo have sought to enforce messages of state loyalty, such as these: “Whoever introduces external forces to get involved is a complete traitor!”
“I understand the rally organised this time was by… the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of America.
“Don’t be led astray by external forces. No matter what, you must love your country!”
Ren Yi, the grandson of a Communist Party leader, Ren Zhongyi, is one figure supporting this idea, and has over two million fans on Weibo.
Writing under the name ‘Chairman Rabbit’, he posted asking “what do overseas anti-China forces most want” from the protests and why did “foreign forces… come out to make a fuss and then withdraw”.
TV pundit and commentator Yu Li, whose Weibo username is Sima Nan and is followed by 3.16 million fans, jokes in one post that he wants to thank foreign forces for interfering in the protests.
He writes: “If the CIA or the National Endowment for Democracy has an office in Beijing, please tell me the address and contact information, and I plan to send them a gift.”
A screenshot of a news article suggesting that the CIA is trying to hire more Chinese speakers has been widely shared.
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Another image on the site shows a BBC cameraman being detained by police while capturing the Chinese protests.
According to officials, Ed Lawrence was arrested “for his own good” in case he caught Covid from the crowd.
After being beaten and held for several hours under Chinese control he was eventually released, reports state.
One user who posted a photo of Mr Lawrence called him a “little idiot” and commented “we must not allow external forces to intervene in our internal conflicts”.
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