China is sending college students home and closing campuses to prevent them from joining the tumultuous protests against its zero-Covid policy.
Tens of thousands of people are pouring onto the streets to celebrate the biggest show of public anger over the Xi Jinping administration’s coronavirus restrictions.
These universities include Xi’s alma mater, Tsinghua University and other schools in Beijing that have said they protect students from Covid-19.
University spaces and campuses were among the few places where protest against the Chinese administration took place throughout the past week in at least eight cities, as many condemned the frustrating Covid lockdowns imposed across China.
Some of the universities have also organized buses to take students to train stations and have announced that the rest of the lectures and final exams will be conducted online.
They didn’t mention when universities will reopen their gates.
Peking Foreign University said it would “make sure that willing students return to their hometowns.” All faculty members and students have tested negative for the virus, she said.
China has also stepped up its crackdown on protests to control attendees of demonstrations against Xi Jinping’s regime.
A student was contacted by college authorities, asking if they were present at the site of the events and also sharing a written account, Reuters reported.
In a similar case, students at several colleges in Sichuan province were asked by their teachers for details of the main organizer of the demonstration, said a person who attended a protest in Chengdu.
After a dramatic weekend of protests in China, authorities have deployed full police officers, cracking down on the possibility of further demonstrations on Tuesday.
No protests were reported in Beijing, Shanghai or other major cities on Tuesday.
Police officers were reported to have been patrolling areas in Shanghai and Beijing where some groups had suggested demonstrations and rallies, but police officials present Monday night prevented the protests from taking place.
A large number of police officers gathered on the streets of Beijing, said Philip, a 22-year-old resident, who called the atmosphere “really scary”.
It comes after around 50 mainland Chinese students protested at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in a show of support for protesters challenging the country’s zero-Covid policy. Chants of “No PCR test but freedom!” and “Oppose dictatorship, don’t be slaves!” they were also reported by the protests.
China recorded its first drop in Covid infections on Tuesday with a total of 38,645 new cases, of which 3,624 were symptomatic and 35,021 were asymptomatic, the country’s health agency said.
This is down from the 40,347 new infections recorded the day before.
China is the only major economy to impose a tough zero-Covid policy to counter the outbreak, which has been slowly being pushed back by citizens who have been cooped up at home for more than four months in some regions and denied access to food and medicines.
The policy, while confining millions to their homes to isolate any single infection, has helped China keep its numbers lower than the US, India, Brazil and other countries.
It has also affected the Chinese economy, which has collapsed due to the continued lockdowns. Profits have dried up in 22 of China’s top 41 industrial sectors this year with analysts saying China’s economy can’t handle more Covid-related restrictions on industries and sectors.
Officials eased some antivirus restrictions on Monday in a bid to defuse public anger, but the ruling party affirmed its “zero-Covid” strategy.