Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slammed China’s “zero COVID” policy on Tuesday and said the people of China are “right” to speak out and protest against government lockdowns and abuses of human rights perpetrated by the Chinese Communist Party.
Speaking at a press conference, the Republican governor said China’s policies are “draconian,” “unscientific” and “violates people’s liberties.”
“This CCP has a maniacal desire to exert total control over its population,” DeSantis said, calling “zero COVID” a “pretext” for the Chinese government to tyrannize the people. “I just think we need these draconian COVID policies to go to the ash heap of history where they belong.”
Chinese authorities have initiated a massive law enforcement response to violent protests that began last week and continued to intensify throughout the weekend across China, largely at least temporarily restoring order in the major cities of Beijing and Shanghai as of Tuesday.
The protests originated after an apartment complex fire in the far-west region of the country resulted in the deaths of 10 people, an event that has been blamed on a delayed response by the local fire department amid continued lockdown policies.
Protesters took to the streets across the country to demand pandemic restrictions be eased, while others even called for the resignation of the country’s top leaders. Violent confrontations between police and protesters were filmed and have been posted online.
President Biden’s administration has issued limited comments on the unrest in China, saying, “the White House supports the right of peaceful protest.”
DeSantis, widely seen as a prospective 2024 presidential candidate, also commented on reports that Apple restricted the ability of Chinese iPhone users to use its AirDrop file-sharing service, which is a tool that has been used to bypass censorship and spread information about protests.
The governor accused Apple of “providing aid and comfort” to the CCP and criticized the company for “threatening to remove Twitter from the app store because Elon Musk is actually opening it up for free speech.”
“That would be a huge, huge mistake, and it would be a really raw exercise of monopolistic power that I think would merit a response from the United States Congress,” DeSantis said.
“Don’t be a vassal of the CCP on one hand and then use your corporate power in the United States on the other to suffocate Americans and try to suppress their right to express themselves,” he added.
Fox News’ Michael Lee contributed to this report.