China vows to crack down on ‘hostile forces’ as police deter protests

BEIJING: China’s top law enforcement agency pledges to crack down on “hostile forces” and their “sabotage”, the comments appear to be intended to warn angry protesters about Covid-19 policies and provide justification for government efforts to crack down on dissent.
According to a statement, security chief Chen Wenqing used a meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Political and Legal Commission to urge law enforcement agencies to take strong measures to protect national security and social stability. The committee said at the meeting, held on Monday and not disclosed until late Tuesday, “criminal and illegal acts that disrupt social order” will not be tolerated.
While the statement made no mention of widespread protests against China’s Covid Zero strategy last weekend, the timing suggests it came in response to a rare wave of criticism. Chen – a Politburo member who was previously China’s spy chief – made “recent decisions and arrangements” from the party’s top leadership, the body said, without no detailed explanation.
The commission’s warning marks the first time the Chinese government has blamed “hostile forces” for the protests – the most significant manifestation of unrest in President Xi’s decade in power. Bin Binh. Over the years, the Communist Party has often attributed internal unrest to foreign interference, without saying who they were referring to or providing evidence.
Hu Xijin – retired editor-in-chief of the state-backed Global Times and a vocal pro-government commentator – wrote on Twitter that the statement “transmits a clear warning message”. “. “The protesters must have understood that. If they repeat those rallies, the risk increases dramatically,” he said.
The messages came two days after thousands of protesters took to the streets in Shanghai, expressing anger at China’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid. Protests have also broken out in Beijing, Wuhan and several other cities, over fears that virus restrictions contributed to a deadly fire at an apartment complex in the northwestern region of Tan. Cuong last week left 10 people dead and 9 injured.
In the days since, large numbers of police have been stationed around the protest sites, with officers checking passersby’s IDs and smartphones, apparently for the videos. about unrest and banned apps in China, like Twitter and YouTube. The dense police presence appears to be preventing further protests, with plans still being shared in social media groups and encrypted messaging apps.
Beijing has previously claimed that foreign “black hands” encouraged the pro-democracy protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019, often to push back against criticism from the US and its allies. Chinese diplomats also blame “foreign forces” for trying to incite unrest in Xinjiang or to interfere in Taiwan’s affairs as a way to prevent China’s development.
A senior Biden administration official said the US government had deliberately used cautious language in its response to the protests to avoid giving the impression that it was encouraging them. However, ambassador Nicholas Burns, the country’s top envoy to Beijing, used a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs on Tuesday to urge China not to crack down on the protests. “irregular” demonstrations.
While the narrative of foreign forces has long seemed to be widely accepted in China’s highly censored social media environment, there have been signs of skepticism. Footage of a recent protest in Beijing shows an unidentified man warning crowds around him about “foreign actors” among them.
Protesters challenged the comments, pointing out that the Communist Party’s ideological ancestors hailed from places like Germany and Russia. Some shouted back: “Which foreign agent are you talking about, Marx, Engels, Lenin or Stalin?” Bloomberg News was unable to verify the video immediately.


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