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Wuhan Lockdown: Wuhan rental protest shows riots in China after lockout | International Business News

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NEW DELHI: Dozens of small store owners protested in front of one of Wuhan’s largest shopping malls to demand a rent cut, in one of the first signs of unrest since authorities lifted a closure at the epicenter of the outbreak of coronavirus.

Sitting about a meter away, the store owners sat or knelt in front of the Grand Ocean Department Store on Friday, wearing masks and holding signs while police watched them. A day earlier they chanted “Rent Exempt for a Year or Reimbursed the Lease” in videos posted on the Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo that were quickly censored.

“You can’t survive,” said a sign holding a woman who rented a position in Grand Ocean, who also asked the landlord to return the rent and security deposit during the closing period.

The woman said the property developer in charge of the mall, which translates to World City, should exempt the rent for them because 99% of protesters own small stores and have not had any business since the virus outbreak. Most of the city’s neighborhoods still face chain restrictions on movement and there is little commercial traffic.

Another protester said the government did not respond after its protest yesterday, saying that the police had assaulted people on Wednesday. None of the protesters Bloomberg spoke to revealed their names due to retribution concern.

A woman who answered the phone in World City said they had not restarted work and were unable to answer questions. A call to the Grand Ocean general office was not answered.

Hubei Shocks

Wuhan was officially released from mass quarantine on Wednesday, January 23. The tight restrictions helped China stop the outbreak of the deadly disease known as Covid-19, but it also led to a sharp drop in investment and consumption that pushed the economy into its most dire situation in decades.

The rally, however small, shows the challenges President Xi Jinping now faces in getting millions of people back to work while preventing a second wave of infections. At the beginning of the crisis, Xi warned that the virus posed a threat to “social stability” in China, and has since seen tensions erupt in both the country and the United States. USA, its main export market.

The protest in Wuhan this week comes after previous violent clashes at the border of the surrounding Hubei province and neighboring Jiangxi province in late March. The scenes captured in videos posted on social media showed that the Hubei police were clashing with Jiangxi officers who wanted to keep the border closed.

China has recently expressed its desire to deal with any signs of dissent harshly. Earlier this week, Chinese authorities put open property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang under investigation after a copy of an essay widely attributed to him criticizing the government’s response to the virus was distributed on social media.

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