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China blames 'forces with ulterior motives' for linking Urumqi fire to COVID curbs

Agence France-Presse
China blames 'forces with ulterior motives' for linking Urumqi fire to COVID curbs
This frame grab from eyewitness video footage made available via AFPTV on November 27, 2022 shows demonstrators shouting slogans as police hold their positions, in Shanghai. Angry crowds took to the streets in Shanghai in the early hours of November 27 and videos on social media showed protests in other cities across China, as public opposition to the government's hardline zero-Covid policy mounts.
AFPTV / AFP

BEIJING — China on Monday blamed "forces with ulterior motives" for linking a deadly fire in the western Xinjiang region to strict Covid measures, a key driver of countrywide protests in recent days.

Online posts circulating on both Chinese and overseas social media platforms have claimed that lengthy Covid lockdowns in Urumqi hampered rescue attempts after the blaze on Thursday night. 

In response to a question at a regular press briefing about the disaster, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: "On social media there are forces with ulterior motives that relate this fire with the local response to COVID-19." 

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