White House: US Supports Chinese People’s Right to Peaceful Protest

Reuters
By Reuters
November 28, 2022Chinashare

WASHINGTON—The White House on Monday said it supported the Chinese people’s right to peacefully protest against COVID-19 lockdowns and it did not see supply chain impacts from the demonstrations.

“People should be allowed … the right to assemble and to peacefully protest policies or laws or dictates … that they take issue with,” White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters. “The White House supports the right of peaceful protest.”

Kirby also said the United States had not received any requests from China for COVID-19 vaccines.

White House mallard
A mallard walks along the North Lawn at the White House on Nov. 9, 2022. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)

Protesters in multiple Chinese cities have demonstrated against heavy COVID-19 measures in recent days.

Chinese police on Monday tightened security at the sites of weekend protests in Shanghai and Beijing, after crowds there and in other Chinese cities and dozens of university campuses made a show of civil disobedience unprecedented since Chinese leader Xi Jinping assumed power a decade ago.

“We’ve long said everyone has the right to peacefully protest, here in the United States and around the world. This includes in the PRC (People’s Republic of China),” a White House National Security Council spokesperson said in a statement.

“We think it’s going to be very difficult for the People’s Republic of China to be able to contain this virus through their zero-COVID strategy,” the spokesperson said, adding that the United States was focused on “what works” to combat the virus, including by enhancing vaccination rates.

Beijing and Washington have dealt with the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in vastly different ways, a split that has reshaped the contest between the world’s two leading economies.

Beijing’s zero-COVID policy has come at the cost of confining many millions of people to long spells at home. This has inflicted extensive disruption and damage to China’s economy.

Earlier in the pandemic, the contest between the two countries was on display as they sought to burnish their countries’ geopolitical clout through vaccine distribution.

The backlash against COVID-19 curbs is a setback for the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) efforts to eradicate the virus, which is infecting record numbers after swathes of the population sacrificed income, mobility, and mental health to prevent it from spreading.

During his tenure, Xi has overseen the quashing of dissent and the expansion of a high-tech social surveillance system that has made protest more difficult, and riskier.

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