Chinese police crack down on Beijing lockdown ‘rumours’

BEIJING (AFP) – Chinese police are investigating a woman for allegedly fabricating “rumours” that Beijing will enter a three-day lockdown, officials said yesterday, after the claims on social media prompted panic buying across the capital.

China is digging in its heels on a zero-COVID strategy to stamp out clusters as they emerge, hitting hundreds of areas across Beijing with some form of restrictions, including hard lockdowns.

Residents rushed to supermarkets on Thursday to stock up on groceries as rumours spread that stay-at-home orders would soon be announced. Dining out has already been halted and many tourist attractions closed.

But instead of a lockdown, officials announced a three-day mass testing drive for most of the city Thursday and told residents there was no need to panic-buy food.

Beijing police said in a statement on social media that they have launched an investigation into a woman surnamed Yao.

The 38-year-old “fabricated and published the relevant rumours”, the statement said, adding that police have taken “criminal compulsory measures” against her – a broad term that can refer to detention, arrest or home surveillance.