Chinese universities sent protesting students home as part of a nationwide crackdown by the communist government against protests demanding an end to draconian anti-COVID restrictions.
The streets of Beijing, Shanghai, and other major cities were reportedly quiet Tuesday as police spread out to stifle the growing dissent. Authorities converged on sites of previous demonstrations and checked citizens’ phones for apps used to organize anti-government gatherings.
Tsinghua University in Beijing, which saw student protests erupt over the weekend, dispersed students back home. Many returned to remote locales, greatly diminishing the chance of further activities.
The school said that nine student dorms were closed Monday as a protective measure against COVID-19. The university is one of at least 10 that sent students home after the weekend unrest.
Chinese universities sent students home and police fanned out in Beijing and Shanghai to prevent more protests Tuesday after crowds angered by severe anti-virus restrictions called for leader Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent… https://t.co/RKPQ9Zd7vP
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) November 29, 2022
Angry crowds called for President Xi Jinping to resign, expressing the loudest mass dissent in many years.
Beijing responded Monday by loosening some restrictions, but at the same time, the communist government recommitted itself to its highly unpopular “zero COVID” policy.
China’s overall caseload, though official numbers are suspect, is generally thought to be lower than that of the U.S. and other developed countries.
That protocol also led to millions being quarantined as officials tried to keep every case in check. The result is tens of thousands of students being ferried to bus and train stations. They also face the challenge of classes and final exams now being administered online.
The dispersal of students is contradictory to the recent government messaging for citizens to stay home. There are now several restrictions on movement by the masses.
About 50 students from the mainland assembled Monday at the Chinese University of Hong Kong to support their colleagues at home. The candle-carrying protesters chanted “oppose dictatorship, don’t be slaves!”
It is unlikely, however, that those at home will see their efforts. Beijing is taking down videos and posts about the protests from online sites as soon as they appear.
Experts believe the response to mass demonstrations has been rather muted, meaning officials want to keep attention away from the widespread nature of the unrest.
Chinese communists in October pledged to back off of some of the more unpopular restrictions by adjusting quarantines and other mandates. That changed, however, when officials reported a spike in cases and many cities instead strengthened their controls.