Amid a spike in Covid-19 infections in China, the Communist Party’s top security officials have vowed to take action against individuals who have allegedly “used the pandemic” to infiltrate and spread rumors. This announcement comes after China reversed its three-year zero-Covid strategy.
In a statement released following a meeting of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission on Thursday, officials emphasized the need to “safeguard national security and social stability” by taking legal action against those who “use the pandemic to infiltrate, sabotage, make rumours to start troubles and disrupt social order.”
This pledge highlights the government’s determination to maintain control and stability in the face of rising Covid-19 infections and potential threats to national security.
According to state news agency Xinhua, top security officials in China, including Chen Wenqing, a new member of the Politburo, praised the country’s Covid-19 prevention policies of the past three years as “scientific, effective” and “totally correct.”
According to a report by Xinhua, officials also stated that it was “totally correct” to adjust China’s Covid-19 prevention policies based on new developments. The report also indicated that the country’s security apparatus should focus on “defending the people’s interests” related to Covid-19 and addressing the problems faced by citizens.
The Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, which oversees all security-related departments including police forces, prosecutors, judges, spying agencies, and prison systems, is responsible for implementing these measures.
In recent weeks, China has rapidly lifted most of its Covid-19 restrictions and fully reopened its economy, even as the number of infections has spiked across the country, from major cities to rural areas.
In late November, a series of rare protests erupted in several cities across China, which coincided with significant economic pressures. The Chinese government appears to have responded to these protests, which President Xi Jinping described as being largely composed of “frustrated students,” by lifting some Covid-19 restrictions.
However, it is believed that legal proceedings are underway to punish a small number of protesters. Beijing’s ambassador to Paris, Lu Shaye, has blamed “foreign forces” for the unrest, without providing further details, and has acknowledged that there are genuine frustrations with the local implementation of Covid-19 policies set by the central government.
As China struggles with a surge in Covid-19 infections, a shortage of medicine, and stretched medical resources, police in many cities have vowed to crack down on individuals who stockpile and sell Covid-related drugs at inflated prices.
Recently, police in Suzhou arrested a man for causing a disturbance after he claimed online to have contracted two different Covid-19 variants within a five-day period.
Image Credit: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images