Police in northeastern China said that seven people have been arrested following a clash between residents and authorities enforcing COVID-19 quarantine restrictions.
While the numbers remain relatively low, China has relentlessly pursued its strict “zero-COVID” policy of quarantines, lockdowns and daily or near-daily compulsory testing.
A news release from the police department in the Shandong city of Linyi said public security would take strong measures against those who “illegally violated the legal rights of personal protection of citizens.”
Anti-pandemic measures have prompted backlashes across the country, forming a rarely seen challenge to Communist Party authority. It wasn’t immediately clear who was arrested after the clash. News of the arrests appeared on social media Tuesday morning, but were erased by the country’s censors before noon.
The reported conflict comes as China reported 7,691 new cases nationwide for Nov. 7, compared to 5,643 the day before. Of those cases, the National Health Commission said, 890 were symptomatic, an increase from 569 the previous day.
Some 2,230 cases were reported Tuesday in the southern manufacturing and technology hub of Guangzhou.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has made “zero-COVID” a hallmark of his administration, which gained a boost last month after he was granted a third five-year term in power and promoted loyalists to top positions.
Those include the former party leader of Shanghai, where a draconian lockdown over the summer led to food shortages, confrontations with authorities and severe disruptions to global supply chains that have grown dependent on Chinese manufacturing and shipping.
Workers flee sites to avoid quarantine
While the rest of the world has mostly opened up, China has taken only highly cautious minor steps, with its borders still largely closed and officials under heavy pressure to enforce restrictions.
Last week, access to the industrial zone where a factory that manufactures Apple iPhones is located was suspended for one week following a surge in infections in Zhengzhou and the departure of workers from the factory. Many climbed fences and walked along highways to avoid being placed in quarantine centres where food, sanitation and privacy standards have been heavily criticized.
Apple said Sunday its Foxconn factory in the central Chinese city Zhengzhou is “operating at significantly reduced capacity.”
“We now expect lower iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max shipments than we previously anticipated,” the company said. “Customers will experience longer wait times to receive their new products.”
China reported its trade shrank in October as global demand weakened and anti-virus controls weighed on domestic consumer spending. Exports declined 0.3 per cent from a year earlier, down from September’s 5.7 per cent, the customs agency reported Monday. Imports fell 0.7 per cent, compared with the previous month’s 0.3 per cent expansion.
Speculation about a possible relaxation of “zero-COVID” roiled markets, but the government has kept its plans, including the possibility of importing foreign vaccines, a closely held secret.