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China blames ‘forces with ulterior motives’ for linking Urumqi fire to Covid curbs

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China on Monday blamed “forces with ulterior motives” for linking a deadly fire in the western Xinjiang region to strict Covid measures, a key driver of countrywide protests in recent days.

Online posts circulating on both Chinese and overseas social media platforms have claimed that lengthy Covid lockdowns in Urumqi hampered rescue attempts after the blaze on Thursday night.

In response to a question at a regular press briefing about the disaster, foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said: “On social media there are forces with ulterior motives that relate this fire with the local response to Covid-19.”


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

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