Battlegrounds in Guangzhou, Shanghai, and elsewhere, where fierce fighting between protesters and security forces raged Tuesday, were hauntingly quiet on Wednesday, according to several international press outlets allowed to report from the country on the biggest act of civil disobedience under Xi Jinping’s reign.
In the U.S., national security spokesman John Kirby underscored the White House warning that peaceful protesters should be allowed to voice concerns. “We don’t want to see protesters physically harmed, intimidated, or coerced in any way,” he told CNN on Tuesday. “That’s what peaceful protest is all about and that’s what we have continued to stand up for whether it’s in China or Iran or elsewhere around the world.”
While Chinese authorities aren’t known for giving in to pressure, news of the lifting of restrictions in Guangzhou, where the Foxconn factory produces Apple iPhones, was welcomed, though authorities made no mention of the protests that have rocked the city.
China, the first epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, has registered far fewer cases and deaths than anywhere else in the world. But skepticism about transparency in counting cases and about the origin of the virus have raised eyebrows around the world. China remains the only country in the world to still enforce Draconian lockdowns and mass testing.