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Australian National Review – Chinese Police With Weapons Reportedly Lock Down Tourists In Airport

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Chinese Police With Weapons Reportedly Lock Down Tourists in Airport

By Sophia Lam

Footage of Chinese police holding weapons at the airport of Xishuangbanna (Banna) prefecture to stop tourists from boarding their planes has gone viral in China and overseas.

Tourists were trapped in the airport after the local authorities of Banna suddenly locked down the city of Jinghong on Oct. 4. They chanted “We want to go home!”

Then police wearing full personal protective gear and holding guns appeared at the airport. It is not clear if their guns were loaded with live ammunition. A tourist can be heard shouting: “Are you going to kill us all?”

Xishuangbanna, a prefecture in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province, borders both Burma and Laos. It is well-known for its tropical rainforest, one of the largest in Asia, and is home to Asian elephants, Indo-Chinese tigers, and green peacocks, making it a popular attraction for Chinese tourists.

The prefecture seat is Jinghong, which reportedly saw an outbreak of the pandemic on Oct. 2 and recorded a total of one asymptomatic case and two symptomatic cases as of Oct. 4.

Jinghong City, with a population of 642,737 people, was locked down on Oct. 4. Starting from 2 p.m., Jinghong City’s flights and high-speed railways were suspended, the highways were closed, and a large number of passengers were trapped.

The Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times reached out to several passengers who were at the airport on Oct. 4.

Police Came to Suppress Protest: Tourist

Mr. Song (pseudonym), a tourist in Jinghong, told The Epoch Times on Oct. 5 that he was at the airport when the armed police came to shut down the protest of tourists who were prohibited from boarding their plane.

He said that the tourists were at the departure hall of Banna’s airport. “We saw planes landing and then taking off without letting passengers board the plane, so some people rushed the boarding gates, hoping to have an opportunity to leave,” Song said, adding that the police came with guns to clamp down on the protest.

He said that all the planes were canceled after 2 p.m. without notice. “Some planes landed and then flew away without taking any passengers,” Song said.

“We protested until midnight, and we got no reply from the authorities [about] when we can leave.”

Song is still staying in a hotel in Jinghong.

“No one knows how long Jinghong is to be locked down, and we find future airfares have significantly increased,” said Song.

He told the publication that they have to pay for the hotel accommodation by themselves.

“We left the airport after midnight, and the hotel we had stayed at charged us 260 yuan ($37) per night. Some tourists were charged 300 yuan ($42) per night,” Song said the hotel increased its charges to newcomers.

“Now that all the flights have been canceled and high-speed trains have been suspended, we can’t go anywhere,” Song said. He told The Epoch Times that some tourists wanted to change hotels but were not able to leave the hotel because local public transport and taxis were all banned from operating.

Ms. Lin (pseudonym) is a tourist from Shenzhen. She said that her wish is to go back home as soon as possible.

“The local government previously told us that the city would be locked down until Oct. 6, but they have extended the time to Oct. 9. The authorities also asked us to get three PCR tests in the five-day lockdown period,” Lin told The Epoch Times.

She said there are about 1,000 travelers from Shenzhen who have been locked down in Jinghong.

Some people were still staying at the airport after the conflict, according to Lin.

“We have called the Shenzhen government, telling them about our situation. We asked them if they [Shenzhen government officials] can help us charter planes to fly us back to Shenzhen at our own expense,” said Lin. She didn’t say if the Shenzhen municipal government would help or not.

She added that there were protests by tourists on Oct. 4 at a local night market and police came and hit the protesters.

“The protestors are tourists because we are locked down here, but the three COVID patients are locals, not tourists. But the locals can move around, while tourists have to be isolated,” Lin said that physical conflicts occurred between the protesting tourists and the local police.

The prefecture seat is Jinghong, which reportedly saw an outbreak of the pandemic on Oct. 2 and recorded a total of one asymptomatic case and two symptomatic cases as of Oct. 4.

Jinghong City, with a population of 642,737 people, was locked down on Oct. 4. Starting from 2 p.m., Jinghong City’s flights and high-speed railways were suspended, the highways were closed, and a large number of passengers were trapped.

The Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times reached out to several passengers who were at the airport on Oct. 4.

Police Came to Suppress Protest: Tourist

Mr. Song (pseudonym), a tourist in Jinghong, told The Epoch Times on Oct. 5 that he was at the airport when the armed police came to shut down the protest of tourists who were prohibited from boarding their plane.

He said that the tourists were at the departure hall of Banna’s airport. “We saw planes landing and then taking off without letting passengers board the plane, so some people rushed the boarding gates, hoping to have an opportunity to leave,” Song said, adding that the police came with guns to clamp down on the protest.

He said that all the planes were canceled after 2 p.m. without notice. “Some planes landed and then flew away without taking any passengers,” Song said.

“We protested until midnight, and we got no reply from the authorities [about] when we can leave.”

Song is still staying in a hotel in Jinghong.

“No one knows how long Jinghong is to be locked down, and we find future airfares have significantly increased,” said Song.

He told the publication that they have to pay for the hotel accommodation by themselves.

“We left the airport after midnight, and the hotel we had stayed at charged us 260 yuan ($37) per night. Some tourists were charged 300 yuan ($42) per night,” Song said the hotel increased its charges to newcomers.

“Now that all the flights have been canceled and high-speed trains have been suspended, we can’t go anywhere,” Song said. He told The Epoch Times that some tourists wanted to change hotels but were not able to leave the hotel because local public transport and taxis were all banned from operating.

Ms. Lin (pseudonym) is a tourist from Shenzhen. She said that her wish is to go back home as soon as possible.

“The local government previously told us that the city would be locked down until Oct. 6, but they have extended the time to Oct. 9. The authorities also asked us to get three PCR tests in the five-day lockdown period,” Lin told The Epoch Times.

She said there are about 1,000 travelers from Shenzhen who have been locked down in Jinghong.

Some people were still staying at the airport after the conflict, according to Lin.

“We have called the Shenzhen government, telling them about our situation. We asked them if they [Shenzhen government officials] can help us charter planes to fly us back to Shenzhen at our own expense,” said Lin. She didn’t say if the Shenzhen municipal government would help or not.

She added that there were protests by tourists on Oct. 4 at a local night market and police came and hit the protesters.

 

 

“The protestors are tourists because we are locked down here, but the three COVID patients are locals, not tourists. But the locals can move around, while tourists have to be isolated,” Lin said that physical conflicts occurred between the protesting tourists and the local police.

According to an Oc. 4 notice by the Jinghong pandemic prevention and control command, all people must be quarantined for five days and subject to PCR tests three times within the quarantine period. Only those with three negative test results and with no COVID symptoms are allowed to leave the prefecture, the notice reads.

Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) believes that China’s local governments are further tightening their already stringent zero-COVID policies in an effort to prevent the spreading of COVID to Beijing as the CCP’s key national congress is drawing near. According to the CNA, there were over 1,000 passengers trapped at Banna’s airport on Oct. 4 when the police, in full personal protective gear and with guns and shields, confronted protestors at the airport.

The CCP is convening its 20th national congress in mid-October in Beijing, a top event for political reshuffling and policymaking for the coming five years.

Yunnan provincial government stated on Oct. 6 that Jinghong city reported one asymptomatic case and three symptomatic cases as of midnight on Oct. 5.

The Epoch Times reached out to the Jinghong municipal government and its pandemic prevention and control office for comment on Oct. 6 and had received no reply as of press time.

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