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Xi's zero-Covid policy propels unrest in Tibet, Xinjiang

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Lhasa | August 18, 2022 9:57:28 PM IST
The zero-Covid policy imposed in Xinjiang and Tibet by Chinese President Xi Jinping has created widespread unrest, who are anxious about their livelihoods, as both regions are underdeveloped economically.

The lockdown of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, has been extended until August 18, following an initial three-day lockdown announcement on August 8 amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, reported Tibet Press.

Additionally, the Ngari Prefecture of Tibet has been locked down since August 11, and transportation between Shigatse, Lhasa, and Ngari Prefecture has been suspended.

Famous tourist attractions across Tibet such as Potala Palace, Norbulingka, Tsaparang, and the Tibetan Museu have also been closed to the public.

According to the media reports, people in the area have been anxious about their livelihoods as mass COVID tests are taking place. They have been sealed off inside the neighbourhood doing COVID-19 tests every day or night. Sometimes they had to undergo these tests in the rain, and people got sick from being wet in the rain while waiting in line, reported Tibet Press.

As economically underdeveloped regions, Xinjiang and Tibet lack decent manufacturing businesses. And now everyone's income has become unstable, and everyone is anxious as the streets go silent.

To combat fresh outbreaks of the pandemic in areas like Xinjiang and Tibet, Chinese authorities are drawing on a security apparatus previously used to quell dissent against authorities in Beijing, reported Tibet Press.

Broad surveillance measures used over the years against Tibetan Buddhists and mainly Muslim Uyghurs, both minority groups in China, are helping enforce lockdown rules among people long at risk of arbitrary detention.

That has helped ensure there are no public displays of anger like those seen earlier this year during the months-long lockdown in the financial hub of Shanghai, reported Tibet Press.

President Xi Jinping has maintained strict "COVID-Zero" measures long after other governments abandoned the approach, dealing a blow to the economy and leaving China more isolated on the global stage.

His administration has hailed the policy as helping to prevent deaths on a scale seen in the US and Europe, which he aims to portray as a major success during a once-in-five-year party meeting later this year at which he has expected to extend his rule.

China has faced accusations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang as part of a campaign to assimilate Uyghurs and other groups into a society dominated by ethnic Han Chinese, who make up more than 90 per cent of the national population. China has consistently rejected allegations of genocide and other abuses, saying it's fighting separatism and religious extremism.

At least five cities and two counties in Xinjiang imposed restrictions as of August 14, with most of the capital Urumqi keeping residents locked in their homes, reported Tibet Press.

During a previous lockdown, users on the social media platform Weibo found that posts published with Xinjiang hashtags were quickly censored. Many tagged Beijing and Shanghai instead to evade the controls. (ANI)

 
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