Washington: The US is closely watching the developments in China and continues to stand up and support the right of peaceful protesters, the White House has said, amidst unprecedented demonstrations in the Communist nation over its stringent zero-Covid policy.
China is witnessing protests against the strict enforcement of its zero-Covid policy, under which authorities block apartment buildings or even cordon off a neighbourhood once a resident tests positive, causing great inconvenience to the people.
“Our message to peaceful protesters around the world is the same and consistent: People should be allowed the right to assemble and to peacefully protest policies or laws or dictates that they take issue with,” White House’s National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby told reporters at a news conference.
“We’re watching this closely, as you might expect we would. And again, we continue to stand up and support the right of peaceful protest. And I think we’re going to watch this closely, and we’ll see where things go,” he said in response to a question on Monday.
Kirby said the US has not offered any aid to combat the virus to China at this time.
“We are the largest supplier of COVID vaccines around the world. We have not received any requests or any interest by China to receive our vaccines,” he said.
President Joe Biden, he said, is staying informed on what is going on inside China.
The pandemic, which broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, has so far killed more than 6,631,000 people across the world, according to Johns Hopkins University. The world has also seen more than 641,655,000 cases of Covid-19.
“This is, I think, a moment to reassert what we believe in when it comes to free assembly and peaceful protest. We have done that and will continue to do that, whether it’s people protesting in Iran or China or anywhere else around the world,” he said.
“Nothing has changed about the President’s firm belief in the power of democracy and democratic institutions and how important that is. But this is really a moment for the Chinese people and the Chinese government to speak to. We have been nothing but clear and consistent, and I think you’ll see that going forward,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, on the Senate floor, sought the US to be tough on China.
“To this day, many Chinese companies with well-known ties to the Chinese Communist Party continue to sell microchips to US businesses that have contracts with the federal government. That poses serious risks to Americans’ privacy and national security,” he said.
“The main idea here is simple: if American businesses want the federal government to buy their products or services, they shouldn’t be using the kind of Chinese-made chips that, because of Chinese government involvement, put our national security at risk,” he added.
Senators Marco Rubio and Congressman Chris Smith in a statement said that the Chinese Communist Party’s zero-Covid’ policy is outrageous.
“In addition, the CCP restricts all human rights and freedoms in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and across China. It has robbed the Chinese people of their human dignity,” he asserted.
The Biden Administration’s weak rejection of the CCP’s zero-Covid policy and refusal to call out General Secretary Xi’s totalitarian grip is nothing short of cowardly, the two lawmakers said.
Just weeks after shaking hands with Chinese President Xi in Bali, President Biden and his administration have once again demonstrated that they are unwilling to stand up to the ruling Communist Party and stand in solidarity with the Chinese people, they said.
“Nike, Apple, and the rest of our nation’s hypocritical corporate elites are following the Biden Administration’s shameful approach. Why are they silent? Is it because they made billions doing business with the CCP? Their silence makes them complicit with the CCP’s egregious human rights violations,” they said in a joint statement.
“These protests are not about a public health crisis, but a human rights crisis. The United States must be unwavering in our support for the Chinese people as they bravely call for freedom,” said Rubio and Smith, who are ranking Republican members of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC).
Senator Ted Cruz, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a separate statement, said that the Chinese Communist Party has since the beginning been desperate to cover up the origins, nature, and consequences of COVID-19.
“They lied and continue to lie to the world, and as a result, millions of lives were lost and immense suffering was caused,” he alleged. “Now their coercive campaign of denial has converged with their systematic human rights atrocities, including their ongoing genocide of the Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang,” he said.
“The people of China are not to blame for the CCP’s actions. In fact, many of them were already protesting the CCP’s handling of the pandemic, and now those protests have escalated into open criticism of the regime. They are bravely standing up for their rights,” Cruz said.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul said that for all those who fight against the CCP’s abuses, the protests in China remind them of two critical facts.
“First, Xi Jinping’s lifelong dictatorship and dystopian governance are neither popular nor unchallenged. Second, the CCP represents its own interests, not the well-being of the people of China, who are its victims and who share the desire for individual liberty that every American treasures.
“I salute the bravery of those risking everything to make a stand against the CCP,” McCaul said.