Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the Biden administration supports the zero-COVID protesters in China, explaining that he will address the topic when he visits the country early next year.
“Of course, we do,” Blinken told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” when asked about the US support for the protesters demonstrating against the Chinese government’s stringent Covid-19 restrictions. “We support the right for people everywhere, whether it’s in China, whether it’s Iran, whether it’s any place else, to protest peacefully, to make known their views, to vent their frustrations.”
Blinken said he would bring up the protests with Chinese officials in person next month.
“We will say what we always say and what President (Joe) Biden has said to (Chinese leader) Xi Jinping, which is that human rights and basic civil liberties go to the heart of who we are as Americans. And no American government, no American president is going to be silent on that,” Blinken said.
Blinken also said the US would take the same approach when the rights of protesters are repressed anywhere else: “We speak out against it, we stand up against it, and we take action against it.”
Demonstrations have rocked Iran for several months, sparking a deadly clampdown from authorities. The nationwide uprising was first ignited by the death of Mahsa (also known as Zhina) Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman who died in mid-September after being detained by the country’s morality police. Since then, protesters across Iran have coalesced around a range of grievances with the Iranian government.
Yet while Blinken pointed to US sanctions on those responsible for the crackdown on protesters in Iran, he did not mention any cost that has been imposed on China for its crackdown on protests.
Blinken said that “fundamentally” the protests in China and Iran were not about the US.
“This is about people in both countries trying to express their views, trying to have their aspirations met, and the response that the governments are taking to that,” he said.