Biden Monitoring China Covid Unrest

People gather to protest the Chinese governments continued continued zero-Covid policies at the University of California Berkeley campus in Berkeley, California, on November 28, 2022. (AFP)
People gather to protest the Chinese governments continued continued zero-Covid policies at the University of California Berkeley campus in Berkeley, California, on November 28, 2022. (AFP)
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Biden Monitoring China Covid Unrest

People gather to protest the Chinese governments continued continued zero-Covid policies at the University of California Berkeley campus in Berkeley, California, on November 28, 2022. (AFP)
People gather to protest the Chinese governments continued continued zero-Covid policies at the University of California Berkeley campus in Berkeley, California, on November 28, 2022. (AFP)

US President Joe Biden is monitoring unrest in China by protesters demanding an end to Covid lockdowns and greater political freedoms, the White House said Monday.

The comments came after hundreds of people took to the streets in China's major cities over the weekend, in a rare outpouring of public frustration that has spread to international Chinese-speaking communities.

"He's monitoring this. We all are," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday.

Kirby would not describe Biden's reaction to the demonstrators' demands, saying: "The president's not going to speak for protesters around the world. They're speaking for themselves."

But he stressed US support for the demonstrators' rights.

"People should be allowed the right to assemble and to peacefully protest policies or laws or dictates that they take issue with," Kirby said.

Earlier Monday, the US State Department implied that China's strict lockdown policies were excessive, with a spokesperson saying "it's going to be very difficult" for China to "contain this virus through their zero-Covid strategy."

Discontent has been brewing for months in China over harsh coronavirus control measures, with relentless testing, localized lockdowns and travel restrictions pushing many to the brink.

That frustration was brought to a head after a deadly fire broke out last week in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang region, with many blaming Covid-19 lockdowns for hampering rescue efforts.

Around the United States, notably on university campuses, rallies sprang up Monday in support of the protests in China.

Around 100 people, many of them students, gathered in Washington to call for greater freedoms and mourn those who died in Urumqi.

"(Officials) are borrowing the pretext of Covid, but using excessively strict lockdowns to control China's population. They disregarded human lives," said a Chinese student surnamed Chen.

"I came here to grieve," the 21-year-old added.



Azerbaijan Proposes Document on Principles of Peace before Full Deal with Armenia

FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo
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Azerbaijan Proposes Document on Principles of Peace before Full Deal with Armenia

FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev delivers a speech at the 10th Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting and the 2nd Green Energy Advisory Council Ministerial Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, March 1, 2024. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov/File Photo

Azerbaijan is proposing to sign a document with Armenia on the basic principles of a future peace treaty as an interim measure as they wrangle over a broader deal, a senior Azerbaijani official said on Sunday.
Both Armenia and Azerbaijan have repeatedly said they want to sign a peace treaty to end the conflict over the former breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh, reported Reuters.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said on Saturday a text of a treaty was 80%-90% ready but repeated it was impossible to sign it before Armenia amended its constitution to remove an indirect reference to Karabakh independence, which Armenia has rejected.
Karabakh's ethnic Armenian inhabitants enjoyed de facto independence from Azerbaijan for more than three decades until September 2023, when a lightning Azerbaijani offensive retook the territory and prompted around 100,000 Armenians to flee.
Both countries have in recent months sought to make progress on the peace treaty, including the demarcation of borders, with Armenia agreeing to hand over to Azerbaijan four contested border villages.
A document on the basic principles could be considered as a temporary measure and form the basis of the bilateral ties and ensure neighborly relations between the two countries, Hikmet Hajiyev, foreign policy adviser to the president, told Reuters.
It can be signed until Azerbaijan holds COP29 climate summit in November, Hajiyev added.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in June that a peace treaty with Azerbaijan was close to completion but that his country would not accept its demands that it change its constitution.
After he made those comments, clashes broke out between police and demonstrators, the latest in a series of protests denouncing his policies, including the handing back of ruined villages to Azerbaijan, and demanding his resignation.
On July 5, Constitution Day in Armenia, Pashinyan said the country needed a new constitution "which the people will consider to be what they created, what they accepted, what is written in it is their idea of the state they created and the relations between people and citizens in that state".