Biden administration reacts with caution to China protests

“As we have said, we think it will be very difficult for the People’s Republic of China to control this virus through their Zero Covid strategy,” the spokesperson said in the statement. It was more useful. “We have long said that here in the United States and around the world, everyone has the right to protest peacefully. It belongs to the PRC.”

During a White House press conference, NSC communications strategist John Kirby briefed Biden on events in China. Kirby acknowledged that Biden warned that the world’s democracies face challenges from authoritarian movements, but declined to overrule the NSC’s comments that the United States supports the right to peaceful protest.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Chris Smith (RN.J.) called the administration’s stance on the protests “cowardly.” In a statement released on Monday, the two lawmakers accused “the CCP’s stance and failure to stand in solidarity with the Chinese people.”

As of mid-day Monday in Washington, the number of protesters had dwindled in Beijing and Shanghai over the past 24 hours. But reports say the protests have spread. Hangzhou city Authorities on Monday indicated that they have yet to quell the anger, including calls for an end to Xi’s leadership.

Biden aides are keenly aware that protest movements are unpredictable. While protests are not unusual in China, they are often limited in scope and location, and the Chinese Communist Party is quick to quash anything it considers a serious challenge to its power.

A U.S. official who, like others for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions, said the Biden administration will have to consider several factors in deciding how to respond. A strong American statement, for example, could accuse the Chinese government of “foreign interference” and divert attention from the United States rather than addressing the protesters’ frustrations.

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Despite the crisis, The United States still wants to maintain stability and cooperation with China, a major global power and economic partner, seeking help in everything from pandemic preparedness to combating climate change.

The Biden team’s response to the Chinese protests is likely to contrast sharply with the heightened support for the Iranian protests that have been taking place since mid-September. But Iran is the most powerful country in the region, whose Islamic junta has been America’s enemy for more than 40 years, and there is little trade or other cooperation between the two countries.

Officials across the U.S. government are closely monitoring developments in China, including how the government treats journalists at the protests, and engage in regular discussions about how they should respond, the U.S. official said.

The conversations included Biden administration health officials sharing their assessment of the Covid-19 situation in China with the NSC as recently as Monday, debating the extent to which the virus could continue to spread across the country. The rising number of Covid infections in China means the virus is outpacing the current lockdown strategy and Beijing needs to implement tougher restrictions in the coming days, a person with direct knowledge of the conversations said.

An NSC spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the health-related discussions.

Initial messaging about the NSC-led protests was somewhat muddled over the Thanksgiving holiday, a US official familiar with the matter said. “The United States is not to comment on the protests. For the protesters,” said the official.

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In an apparent response to the protests, Chinese authorities have announced some minor changes to their Covid-19 strategy. Beijing officials, for example, have said they will not install gates to block access to infected housing developments. But media reports detailing the changes show no sign that Communist leaders are backing an overall strategy aimed at isolating anyone infected in order to control the spread and dominance of infectious diseases in China’s medical system.

Xi has wielded extraordinary power in China, stirring up dissent. His leadership was confirmed last month at a Communist Party meeting held every five years. It is surprising that every Chinese protester asked to leave. At that party meeting, Xi said he would continue to support his Zero-Covid policy.

Amid the protests, the US Embassy in Beijing issued a Covid-sensitive statement assuring US citizens in China that their safety is a top priority. “14 days of medicine, I encouraged them to keep bottled water and food for yourself and your household members.”

In recent weeks, US and European officials have debated whether to share vaccines with Beijing. They discussed no. This month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced an agreement to give German citizens in China access to mRNA BioNTech shots. Conversely, Scholz said he would support regulatory approval of Chinese vaccines in the European Union. China has not yet approved any mRNA vaccine for use in the country, instead relying on its own vaccine, which has been ineffective in controlling infection rates.

Some U.S. lawmakers have insisted that news of the protests is circulating online, bypassing Chinese censors. Although bipartisan antipathy toward Beijing is widespread in Congress, Republicans are the loudest.

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“The Chinese people are fighting back against Xi Jinping and the #CCP. Americans everywhere stand in solidarity with you…Freedom for China!” Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) tweeted.

“The CCP is an evil government.” Senator Marsha Blackburn tweeted. (R-Tenn.) “The ongoing protests in Communist China show that the Chinese people are calling for change.”

Protests in Shanghai Beijing Wuhan It happened in major cities including Chengdu and Xi’an.

Chinese security forces have been deployed in large numbers at protest sites, but have so far responded with restraint to the protests. Police have called on protesters in Shanghai to disperse on Sunday. Protesters began to be arrested. who remained at the intersections of the city center. There are also police. High barriers were built. Shanghai has blocked protesters from returning to selected streets.

Chinese security forces clearly do not like foreign media coverage of the protests. Shanghai Police beat Handcuffed and temporarily detained. BBC reporter Ed Lawrence was filming the protesters on Sunday. Police later said they “did it for his own good if they caught Kovid in the crowd.” China Foreign Correspondents Association said. Statement on Monday It said it was “extremely disturbing” that police had targeted foreign media during the protests.

A representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Beijing to respect the right to peaceful protest. “No one should be arbitrarily arrested for peacefully expressing their opinions,” OHCHR spokesman Jeremy Laurence told reporters on Monday.

The Chinese government has avoided commenting directly on the protests. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian denied on Monday that he was unaware of the protesters calling for Xi to step down.

Zhao blamed the deadly Xinjiang fire on external intentional forces and linked it to Zero-Covid protocols without public outrage. China’s Foreign Ministry has cleared these questions and responses from its daily news briefing.

Erin Banco and Kelly Hooper contributed to this report.


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