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China COVID protests deepen foreign investor caution

Unknowns over pace of reopening add to market volatility

People in Hong Kong hold white sheets of paper on Nov. 28 in protest over COVID-19 restrictions in mainland China. (Photo by Kenji Kawase)

HONG KONG -- Protests across major Chinese cities, driven by anger over the government's draconian zero-COVID policy, are making investors even more cautious about the prospects for the world's second-largest economy.

Chinese stocks fell at the start of this week, after demonstrators took to the streets in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities. Some protesters, including students from China's elite universities, held up blank pieces of paper to symbolize the lack of freedom of expression. There was also anger over a fire that killed 10 people in the western city of Urumqi, blamed on a delayed emergency response due to strict COVID controls.

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