The White House reacted to news of widespread protests against coronavirus lockdowns across China and issued a softer statement in support of peaceful protests.
“We've long said everyone has the right to peacefully protest, here in the United States and around the world,” said the statement from the White House National Security Council that was shared with journalists. “This includes the PRC.”
The statement was issued Monday morning, after critics pointed to the fact that the White House had not made any statement over the weekend to back the protesters.
In the White House press briefing on Monday afternoon, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby repeated the same message, stating that the president was in support of the right of peaceful protests.
“The president's not going to speak for protesters around the world, they're speaking for themselves,” Kirby stated when reporters asked to clarify if he had any specific message to demonstrators in China.
However, Kirby and the White House failed to condemn China's brutal authoritarian crackdowns on the protests or their attempts to block protesters' access to the internet.
Biden has remained quiet throughout the weekend, completely ignoring journalists as he returned to Washington, DC on Sunday evening following a long Thanksgiving vacation in Nantucket. Biden also hosted an event at the White House with Nobel Prize winners on Monday afternoon. The event was closed to the media.
The White House statement also noted the fact that the Chinese's “zero COVID” crackdown policies will render it “very difficult” for China to stop the spread of the disease, echoing the rhetoric employed by the World Health Organization.
The statement emphasized the need for vaccinations, boosters, testing, and early treatment of the virus as a way to combat it in people in the United States.
Protests in China persist, and Chinese ruler Xi Jinping is trying to limit them and stick to his coronavirus control policies.
The latest wave of protests started by a fire in an apartment that caused the deaths of ten people in Urumqi the city. Residents in Urumqi blamed the lockdown policy for not rescuing the victims.