Rubio: Chinese government reaction to protests should be ‘wake-up call to the world’

China protests
AP/Kanis Leung
Protesters hold up blank white papers during a commemoration for victims of a recent Urumqi deadly fire in Central in Hong Kong, Monday, Nov. 28, 2022. Students in Hong Kong chanted “oppose dictatorship” in a protest against China’s anti-virus controls after crowds in mainland cities called for President Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of opposition to the ruling Communist Party in decades. (AP Photo/Kanis Leung)

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said Tuesday that the Chinese government’s reaction to ongoing protests against strict COVID-19 policies should serve as a “wake-up call to the world.”

Rubio told “Fox & Friends” that China wants to be the “most powerful country in the world” after pointing to the harsh restrictions the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has imposed on its people to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“If they do that to their own people, what will they do to you?” the senator asked. “I think these things are going to continue, and the reaction of the Chinese government should be a wake-up call to the world.”

China’s zero-COVID strategy includes mass testing and forced containment, which has kept some people under lockdown for months at a time.

The protests, which have spread to at least eight cities, began after a deadly fire broke out in northwest China’s Xinjiang region last week, killing 10 people. Emergency responders were reportedly blocked for some time because of pandemic barriers at the residence where the fire was spreading.

The demonstrations ignited international attention after some protesters began calling for Chinese President Xi Jinping to step down, the first such challenge to the CCP in decades.

Despite the wave of protests, Chinese authorities only eased some restrictions and are keeping its zero-COVID policy intact.

Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Tuesday said the protests show that citizens in any nation will always stand up for their freedoms.

“What we’re learning is that the people of China are human beings. Human beings don’t like to be locked up,” he said. “They don’t like to be told they can’t go out, they can’t go to work, they can’t socialize, they can’t go see family members, they can’t go to entertainment and have fun, for long periods of time by their government.

“In every country in the world where that’s been tried, people have rebelled, even in a totalitarian state like China,” he added. “We’re now seeing that play out.”

Tags China COVID-19 Marco Rubio protests Xi Jinping zero COVID

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