Furious Chinese citizens try to break out of city lockdown in clash

China: Protesters clash with Covid enforcement officials in Jinan

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Chinese citizens from the eastern city of Jinan have been filmed furiously fighting local police in an attempt to escape the strict coronavirus restrictions, footage has shown. China has been hit by seismic waves of protests against the “Zero Covid” strategy that has forced millions into strict isolation and the incident in Jinan is the latest example of a nationwide fight back against the regime. In the footage, police officers in white hazmat suits desperately try to force back the protesters, who have gathered in their hundreds. It comes as the head of the International Monetary Fund urged China to move away from the extreme measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus. 

Two blocks of scaffolding separated the citizens of Jinan, a city of roughly nine million people, from the police, the footage showed. 

The fighting concentrated around attempts to topple the scaffolding, with the civilians furiously trying to break down the metal makeshift fences. 

Screams of “lift lockdown” could be heard as the citizens, desperate to avoid another total lockdown, reached through the scaffolding to grab the police officers. 

Towards the end of the footage, one man appeared to make his way in between the two fences, which had been pulled apart by the angry citizens, after which he was viciously thrust back into the crowd. 

The incident occurred in the city’s Lixia District and is yet another example of public outrage against the regime’s attempts to effectively incarcerate its citizens under the guise of protecting the nation from the spread of coronavirus. 

Asked about criticism of a crackdown on protests, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman defended Beijing’s anti-virus strategy and said the public’s legal rights were protected by law.

The government is trying to “provide maximum protection to people’s lives and health while minimising the COVID impact on social and economic development,” Zhao Lijian said.

Widespread protests broke out last week following the death of ten people when a fire broke out in a residential high-rise in Urumqi, in the Xinjiang province. Many citizens believe the strict coronavirus restrictions had prevented those fatally wounded from surviving. 

It comes as the head of the International Monetary Fund said it is time for China to move away from massive lockdowns and toward a more targeted approach to COVID-19, calling for a change that would ease the impact to a world economy already struggling with high inflation, an energy crisis and disrupted food supply.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva urged a “recalibration” of China’s tough “zero-Covid” approach aimed at isolating every case “exactly because of the impact it has on both people and on the economy”.

In China, protests erupted over the weekend in several mainland cities and Hong Kong in the biggest show of public dissent in decades. 

Authorities have eased some controls but have shown no sign of backing off their larger strategy that has confined millions of people to their homes for months at a time.

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“We see the importance of moving away from massive lockdowns, being very targeted in restrictions,” Georgieva said Tuesday in Berlin. “So that targeting allows to contain the spread of COVID without significant economic costs.”

Georgieva also urged China to look at vaccination policies and focus on vaccinating the “most vulnerable people.” A low rate of vaccinations among the elderly is a major reason Beijing has resorted to lockdowns, while the emergence of more-contagious variants has put increasing stress on the effort to prevent any spread.

Lockdowns have slowed everything from travel to retail traffic to car sales in the world’s second-largest economy. Georgieva urged it “to adjust the overall approach to how China assesses supply chain functioning with an eye on the spillover impact it has on the rest of the world”.

The Washington-based IMF expected the Chinese economy to grow only 3.2 percent this year, below the global average for the year, a rare occurrence.

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