The White House reacted to news of widespread protests of coronavirus lockdowns in China, issuing a mild statement supporting peaceful protests.
“We’ve long said everyone has the right to peacefully protest, here in the United States and around the world,” read a statement from the White House National Security Council shared with reporters. “This includes in the PRC.”
The statement was released Monday morning after critics pointed out that the White House had not said anything over the weekend to defend the protesters.
During the White House press briefing on Monday afternoon, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby repeated a similar message, noting that the president supported the overarching right to peaceful protest.
“The president’s not going to speak for protesters around the world, they’re speaking for themselves,” Kirby said when asked by reporters if he had a specific message to the protesters in China.
But Kirby and White House failed to condemn China’s violent authoritarian crackdowns of the protests or their attempt to censor protesters online.
Biden has personally remained silent throughout the weekend, ignoring reporters as he returned to Washington, DC, on Sunday evening after a long Thanksgiving holiday in Nantucket. He also held an event at the White House with Nobel Prize winners on Monday afternoon that was closed to the press.
The White House statement also noted that China’s “zero COVID” crackdown policies would make it “very difficult” for China to contain the virus, echoing rhetoric used by the World Health Organization.
The statement pointed to promoting vaccines, boosters, testing, and early treatment of the virus as a solution for the United States.
Protests in China continue, as Chinese dictator Xi Jinping is trying to suppress them and hold firm with his coronavirus containment policies.
Protests in China are not rare. What *is* rare, are multiple protests over the same issue, at the same time, across the country. The protest below, apparently in central Beijing’s liangmaqiao, is astounding #China #protests pic.twitter.com/UHJCqqF1YG
— Tom Mackenzie (@TomMackenzieTV) November 27, 2022
Angry protests continue in China. This in Beijing. pic.twitter.com/atxhagSyzl
— Frida Ghitis (@FridaGhitis) November 27, 2022
The latest round of protests was sparked after an apartment building fire killed ten people in Urumqi, as people in the city blamed the lockdown policies for failing to rescue the victims.