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Xi Jinping Goes Maskless At G20 And Mingles With World Leaders While Zero-COVID Rules Spark Rare Protests In China

Benzinga · 11/16/2022 03:27

Days after China eased and adjusted its quarantine and testing requirements, President Xi Jinping was seen without a mask at public events during his Group of 20 visit. 

What Happened: While delegates traveling with Xi to the Bali summit were bound to adhere to strict COVID protocols, the Chinese president was spotted without a mask on one of his most high-profile foreign trips since the onset of the pandemic.

From entering the assembly hall at the G20 gatherings to meeting U.S. President Joe Biden and going to a gala dinner with his wife maskless, Xi signaled a new tolerance for living with the virus; while his country is grappling with violent protests against harsh COVID-19 lockdowns. 

See Also: With Putin Absent, Russia-Ukraine War Dominates G20 Discussions As Biden, Xi Jinping, Modi Meet In Bali

So far, at the G20, Xi has held many face-to-face meetings with more than half a dozen leaders, including Biden and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Xi’s behavior is in stark contrast to his first post-COVID visit to Central Asia for the Shanghai Cooperation Summit two months ago, where he minimized maskless activities and avoided handshakes. 

The risk of catching COVID at the G20 summit is much higher as Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen tested positive after hosting leaders last weekend in Phnom Penh at the ASEAN Summit.

Meanwhile, residents of Guangzhou, one of China’s biggest cities, were seen staging rare protests against the ongoing COVID lockdowns in the country. Videos doing rounds on social media showed hundreds of people marching on the streets and pushing over police barriers in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district. 

Benzinga couldn’t independently verify China’s Guangzhou protest report, and China’s International Press Center did not immediately respond to Benzinga’s request for comment.

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