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Xi Jinping Claims Protests In China Were Held By ‘Students’ Frustrated Due To Covid Pandemic 

Xi informed Michel that the dominant strain of Covid-19 in China is “now mainly Omicron, and Delta before that was much more lethal”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told EU President Charles Michel that the unprecedented public demonstrations against his strict zero-Covid policy were led by “mainly students” who were “frustrated” after three years of the pandemic, according to a media source on Friday, news agency PTI reported.

On Thursday, Xi spoke with Michel in Beijing. In his talks, Michel “pleaded for use of vaccines and then raised the question of China’s measures and government measures,” a senior official was quoted by Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post newspaper in its report. 

And the response we got from the President was explaining why there were protests, claiming that after three years of Covid he had an issue because people were frustrated. It was mainly students or teenagers in university,” they added.

According to European diplomats, Xi’s remarks during a meeting with Michel indicate that he is prepared to further relax restrictions.

The prevalent Omicron strain is reported “less lethal,” although the Chinese leader is claimed to have expressed worry about immunizing the elderly, according to the Post.

For the first time, Xi addressed the widespread protests that were said to have alarmed his authorities. Security has increased in all of China’s major cities as a result.

In a rare display of public outrage in China, hundreds of people protested against the rigidly enforced zero-Covid policy as several cities and apartments were sealed off by authorities to halt the coronavirus from spreading.

Additionally, protesters demanded that Xi, who was just elected to an unprecedented third term, resign. The Communist Party of China (CPC), which is in control, was urged to step down in the chants.

The zero-Covid policy that China has adhered to for the previous three years has been more strict in recent months as the Omicron form quickly expanded throughout many cities, including Beijing.

China has not publicly acknowledged the demonstrations, and the state media has aggressively restricted any mention of them.

According to the report, EU representatives who were present during the Xi-Michel talks interpreted the Chinese President’s broader comments about pandemic controls as a sign that he was prepared to further relax the strict regulations that have put tens of millions of people in lockdown across the nation.

The report has received no official response in Beijing.

The limits are reportedly being loosened in numerous places, according to reports in the local official media during the past few days.

Xi informed Michel that the dominant strain of Covid-19 in China is “now mainly Omicron, and Delta before that was much more lethal”.

According to the report, a second EU official claimed that the Chinese leadership had hinted that it will attempt to push vaccines as a response to the disturbance, with Michel having discussed the European experience of mass vaccination campaigns with Xi and his closest lieutenants.

Xi told Michel that China had “high rates of vaccination, except for elderly people, which is a challenge”, they said.

“My sense was that this [exchange] was something that was informative. I had a feeling that China would on its side be increasingly looking to incentivize its citizens to be vaccinated, to follow a tiny bit of the European experience,” the second official said.

According to government statistics, only 68.7% of Chinese adults over 60 have received three doses of the Covid-19 vaccination. Only 40.4% of people 80 and older had received a booster dosage.

Since the senior population has been immunized for Covid before anywhere else in the globe, China has relied on domestically produced vaccines and has not made a strong effort to vaccinate the elderly. Experts attribute this to a lack of faith.

However, Xi hinted that foreigners residing in the nation will be permitted to use the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine during a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz last month. China has yet to authorize the use of Western vaccines for the general population.

A Chinese license for BioNTech’s mRNA vaccines was requested last year, but it has not yet been approved.


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