China will accelerate vaccination of the elderly after protests against confinements

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China will speed up vaccination of the elderly after protests against confinement

At the height of social upheaval >due to its draconian policies against covid-19, China has made the decision to accelerate vaccination of < strong>older people , two days after the unusual demonstrations against health restrictions, and in the midst of a massive police presence which has served to deter some concentrations. The National Health Commission announced the In a statement, he stated his intention to “accelerate” the vaccination of those over 80 years of age, a population group where only 66% are fully immunized, and to increase the rate among people ages 60 to 79.

The limited vaccination coverage of the elderly is one of the arguments used by the communist government to justify its strict health policy, marked by endless confinements, long-term quarantines, arrival from abroad and the almost daily tests for the population. An increase in vaccination rates could offer China precisely a way out of its “zero covid” policy.

In force for almost three years, that policy was the target of popular anger in demonstrations last weekend, the largest since the 1989 pro-democracy movement. They were triggered by last week's deadly fire in Urumqui, the capital of the Xinjiang region. The frustration has also been added to the discontent of some sectors of the population with the Chinese political system, This is reflected these days in the chants calling for the resignation of President Xi Jingpin, recently elected for a third term.

Massive police presence

A heavy police presence appeared to have lightened on the streets of a rainy Shanghai Tuesday night.. Although the anger was still just as alive. “The current (zero covid) policy is too strict, and it kills more people than the coronavirus itself,” a 17-year-old bystander told Agence France Press, identified as Ray.

It was different in Beijing, where a heavy police presence and night temperatures of minus 9 degrees deterred protesters. Yes there were concentrations in other cities. At the oldest university in Hong Kong,a dozen people headed a crowd that yelled “I'm sorry!” slogans like “give me freedom or give me death.”

“We are not foreign agents, we are Chinese citizens. China should have diverse voices,” said one woman, while another held up a banner in tribute to the victims of the Urumqi fire.

Concessions by the authorities

The Chinese government is sticking to its zero-covid policy, but there are signs of that the local authoritiesthey seek to soften some rules to contain the mobilizations. In Urumqi, an official said on Tuesday that the city would pay 300 yuan ($42) to each “low-income or no-income” person, announc A five-month moratorium on rent was imposed for some families.

In Beijing rentals were banned. padlock gates in residential areas, reported the official Xinhua press agency said on Sunday, a practice that has caused much discomfort by leaving many citizens locked up every time there was a small outbreak of contagion.

London summons Chinese ambassador

In London, the British government summoned a Chinese ambassador. He visited the Chinese ambassador on Tuesday in protest at the arrest of a BBC journalist while covering the protests in Shanghai. A journalist who was “beaten and kicked by the police”, according to the British network, a fact that the British Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly >, qualified of “deeply concerning”, before launching a plea in favor of press freedom. “We have summoned the Chinese ambassador,” he declared upon his arrival at the NATO foreign ministers meeting to be held between today and Wednesday in Bucharest. “It is incredible. It is extremely important that we protect freedom of the press.”