Two Chinese cities ease COVID curbs after protests

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STORY: Protesters clashed with police in the Chinese city of Guangzhou on Tuesday night.

These videos obtained from social media show people throwing objects at the police.

On the other side, dozens of riot police in all-white pandemic gear hold shields over their heads.

Guangzhou is a sprawling port city north of Hong Kong in Guangdong province.

In videos that seemed to show earlier in the day, people were seen gathering around barricades in the manufacturing hub.

Reuters could verify the videos were filmed in Guangzhou,

but could not verify the sequence of events nor what sparked the clashes.

However, scenes of protest have become common across China over the past few days,

as anger about strict COVID-19 rules - three years into the pandemic - appears to be boiling over onto the streets.

National health officials said on Tuesday that China would respond to the:

"urgent concerns" raised by the public and that rules would be implemented more flexibly.

Hours later, officials in Guangzhou said they would allow close contacts of COVID cases to quarantine at home.

Meanwhile, in Zhengzhou - home to a Foxconn factory making Apple iPhones that has also seen COVID protests-

- officials announced the "orderly" resumption of businesses, including supermarkets, gyms and restaurants.

Some elderly residents on the streets of Shanghai expressed fear about the easing of restrictions.

“I will be pretty worried (if curbs are eased). Especially for the elderly who haven’t been vaccinated. And if it opens up, it will be more troublesome for the elderly to get this disease. Now the state is still providing vaccines, so protect yourself. The state cares about you, so it will get better. If the elderly doesn’t get vaccinated, they will be quite worried."

While the easing of some measures appear to be an attempt to appease the public, authorities have also begun to seek out those who have been at recent protests.

A Beijing resident told Reuters on Wednesday that police had come to their home and got them to complete a written record.

Another resident said some friends who posted videos of protests on social media were taken to a police station and asked to sign a promise they "would not do that again".

Beijing's Public Security Bureau did not comment.

In a statement that did not refer to the protests,

the Communist Party's top body in charge of law enforcement agencies said that China would crack down on:

"the infiltration and sabotage activities of hostile forces".

The wave of civil disobedience is unprecedented in mainland China since President Xi Jinping assumed power a decade ago.