Antony Blinken

Antony Blinken says the Biden administration supports zero-Covid protesters in China

Antony Blinken, Secretary of State, stated Sunday that the Biden administration supports zero-COVID protesters from China. He also explained that he will discuss the topic during his visit to the country in the early part of next year.

When asked about US support for protesters who were against China’s Covid-19 restrictions, Blinken replied “Of course,” “We support the rights of people everywhere, regardless of whether it is in China or Iran, to peacefully protest, to make their views known, and vent their frustrations.”

Blinken stated that he would raise the issue with Chinese officials next month.

“We will always say what we always said and what President Joe Biden has told (Chinese leader), Xi Jinping. That is, basic civil liberties and human rights go to the core of who we are as Americans. Blinken stated that no American president, American government, or country will be silent about this.

A deadly fire broke out in Urumqi on November 24, the capital of the far west region of Xinjiang. This triggered protests in China. At least 10 people were killed and nine others were injured in the fire that broke out in an apartment building. This triggered public fury as videos showed that the lockdown had prevented firefighters from reaching the victims.

The city was under lockdown for over 100 days. Residents were unable to leave and many had to stay at home.

Protest numbers have risen and many are now calling for greater political freedoms. Some even call for the removal of Xi.

China is not known for large-scale protests. Although protests may occasionally be held over grievances local to China, these protests are more widespread than any since 1989’s Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.

China’s government has reacted quickly to protests by deploying police officers at key sites and warning protestors. They also tightened online censorship.

Blinken stated Sunday that the US would follow the same approach when protesters’ rights are violated elsewhere: “We speak against it, stand up against it and take action against them.”

For several months, Iran has been rocked by demonstrations that have prompted a brutal crackdown by authorities. The death of Mahsa, also known as China Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian girl who was detained by the country’s morality police in September sparked the nationwide uprising. Protesters from Iran have gathered around a variety of grievances against the Iranian government since then.

According to Entekhab, the Iranian Attorney General Mohammad Jafar Montazeri stated Thursday that Iran’s judiciary and parliament are reviewing Iran’s mandatory hijab laws.

Montazeri was also quoted saying that Iran’s feared Morality Police had been “abolished.” However, the Iranian state media strongly rejected those comments and stated that the interior ministry supervises the force, not just the judiciary.

Blinken, in an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday, refused to say whether the US believes that the removal of the morality police will end the country’s protests.

“That is up to the Iranian people. It’s all about that. It’s not about you. We’ve witnessed the incredible courage of young Iranians, particularly women, since Mahsa Amini’s murder.

Tapper interviewed Blinken about US sanctions against Iranian protesters. However, he didn’t mention any costs imposed on China because of its crackdown.

Blinken stated that protests in China, Iran, and elsewhere were not fundamentally about the US.

He said, “This is about people from both countries trying their best to express themselves, trying to get their aspirations fulfilled, and the response that governments are giving to that.”

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