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China: Workers clash with police at a Covid testing kit factory

Workers clashed with police at a Covid testing kit factory in China, according to video released on social media Sunday, as the country seeks to exit a hardline “zero Covid” policy.

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Photographs provided by AFP Geo in an industrial park in the (southwestern) city of Chongqing show people throwing crates at a group of men in military uniform, sending what appear to be test kits flying.

In another scene, a crowd of people can be seen in front of a line of policemen at night as loudspeakers broadcast a warning asking them to “stop their illegal activities”.

A man who posted a video of the scene stated that many workers had not been paid.

According to other publications, the Chongqing-based pharmaceutical company Zybio suddenly laid off workers who had been recruited in recent weeks.

Zebio did not immediately return calls from AFP, while the local police department declined to comment.

“All workers’ demands are of an economic nature,” asserted in a videotape of a man calling himself a “Marxist-Leninist-Maoist.”

He insisted that there was no political motive behind the protest.

AFP was unable to determine the exact moment the videos were filmed, but testimonies posted on social media claim that the clash occurred on the night of Saturday to Sunday.

Brown and white industrial buildings with distinctive patterns can be seen in the background of the videos, which match earlier shots of Zybio’s facilities in Jianqiao Industrial Zone in Dadoukou District.

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The hashtag “Chongqing Dadukou Pharmaceutical Factory” appeared to be censored on popular social network Weibo on Sunday, with only one post from the previous day still visible describing the protest as an “interesting topic”.

China is seeing a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases as the government backtracks on its zero-tolerance strategy for the virus, driving demand for testing kits and medicines.

Last month, authorities restarted the production lines of more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies, while some companies hired staff to meet the surge in demand.