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  30 Nov 2022, 12:12

Protesters clash with police in southern Chinese megacity

BEIJING, Nov 30, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Protesters clashed with police in the
southern Chinese megacity of Guangzhou overnight Tuesday into Wednesday,
according to witnesses and footage, part of a wave of demonstrations across
the country triggered by Covid restrictions.

Security personnel in hazmat suits formed ranks shoulder-to-shoulder, taking
cover under see-through riot shields, to make their way down a street in the
southern city's Haizhu district as glass smashed around them, videos posted
on social media showed.

In the footage -- geolocated by AFP -- people could be heard screaming and
shouting, as orange and blue barricades were pictured strewn across the
ground.

People are seen throwing objects at the police, and later nearly a dozen men
are filmed being taken away with their hands bound with cable ties.

A Guangzhou resident surnamed Chen told AFP on Wednesday that he witnessed
around 100 police officers converge on Houjiao village in Haizhu district and
arrest at least three men on Tuesday night.

China's vast security apparatus has moved swiftly to smother protests across
the country, as frustration over heavy-handed Covid rules bubbled after a
fire in a locked down building in Urumqi in the northwestern Xinjiang region
killed 10 people last week.

Haizhu, a district with more than 1.8 million people, has been the source of
the bulk of Guangzhou's Covid-19 cases. Much of the area has been under
lockdown since late October.

Earlier in November, protesters in Haizhu had crashed through lockdown
barriers and marched onto streets in a rare outburst of public anger against
Covid restrictions.

Videos of that protest circulated on social media on November 14, and
verified by AFP, showed hundreds of people taking to the street in Haizhu.
Some tore down barriers set up to keep locked-down residents from leaving
their homes.

- 'Trembling and crying' –

Meanwhile, videos published on China's Twitter-like Weibo on Tuesday night
showed long lines of traffic as residents rushed to leave the neighbouring
Tianhe district.

One student who was told to leave her college dormitory said on Weibo: "I
used to think this would be the happiest time of my life... Now I receive an
emergency notification at 1:00 am, I end up trembling and crying in the
corridor at 2:00 am, and I watch my classmates flee with suitcases at 3:00
am.

 At 4:00 am, I sit alone on my suitcase and cry, waiting for my parents to
come..."At 5:00 am, I finally got in the car and escaped from this man-eating
place. I used to say that this land is kind ... now it's like hell," the
writer who uses the pseudonym Ludao Lizi said on a verified Weibo account.

Zhang Yi, a spokeswoman for the Guangzhou National Health Commission on
Tuesday said "the epidemic in Tianhe District is developing rapidly, and the
risk of social transmission continues to increase".

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