Beijing:  Chinese universities are sending students home as the ruling Communist Party tightens anti-virus controls and tries to prevent more protests, reports said.

Protests continued till Monday in the country against the severe “zero COVID” restrictions and clamour for President Xi Jinping‘s resignation grew louder in the biggest show of public dissent in decades.

According to reports, with police out in force, there was no word of protests on 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.

Campuses were hotbeds of activism during the last push for democratic reforms in the 1980s, culminating in the 1989 student-led movement centred on Beijing‘s Tiananmen Square that was crushed by the army.

By sending students home, authorities hope to “defuse the situation,” said Dali Yang, an expert on Chinese politics at the University of Chicago.
    

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