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Chinese University Students Sent Home Amid Covid Protests

Chinese universities are sending students home as the ruling Communist Party tightens anti-virus controls and tries to prevent more protests after crowds angered by its severe “zero COVID” restrictions called for President Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent in decades.

With police out in force, there was no word of protests Tuesday in Beijing, Shanghai or other major cities.

Some anti-virus restrictions were eased Monday in a possible effort to defuse public anger following the weekend protests in at least eight cities. But the ruling party affirmed its “zero COVID” strategy, which has confined millions of people to their homes in an attempt to isolate every infection.

Tsinghua University, Xi’s alma mater, where students protested Sunday, and other schools in Beijing and the southern province of Guangdong said they were protecting students from COVID-19. But dispersing them to far-flung hometowns also reduces the likelihood of more activism following protests at campuses last weekend.

Some universities arranged buses to take students to train stations. They said classes and final exams would be conducted online.

“We will arrange for willing students to return to their hometowns,” Beijing Forestry University said on its website. It said its faculty and students all tested negative for the virus.

Authorities have ordered mass testing and imposed other controls in areas across China following a spike in infections. But the move to disperse students was unusual at a time when many cities are telling the public to avoid travel and imposing controls on movement.

In Hong Kong, about 50 students from mainland China protested Monday at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in a show of support for people on the mainland. They lit candles and chanted, “No PCR tests but freedom!” and “Oppose dictatorship, don’t be slaves!”

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