Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) reaction to continuing protests against its "zero COVID" policy should be a "wake-up call to the world."
During a Tuesday appearance on "Fox & Friends," Rubio cited the harsh restrictions the Chinese government has placed on citizens in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, and said China has aspirations of being the "most powerful country in the world."
"If they do that to their own people, what will they do to you?" Rubio said. "I think these things are going to continue, and the reaction of the Chinese government should be a wake-up call to the world."
According to The Hill, the protests began after a fire broke out at an apartment building in China's northwest Xinjiang region last week, killing 10 people and injuring nine. Emergency crews were reportedly delayed in their rescue efforts because of pandemic barriers at the scene.
The demonstrations have since spread to at least eight cities and drew international attention after protesters began calling for Chinese President Xi Jinping to resign.
Early Sunday morning, protesters in Shanghai chanted "Xi Jinping! Step down! CCP! Step down!" the AP reported.
Crowds returned to the street hours after being cleared by police, chanting "We don't want PCR tests, we want freedom!"
Key elements of China's zero COVID strategy include mass testing and mandatory lockdowns, which have kept some people confined for months at a time.
Despite the widespread unrest, Chinese officials only loosened some restrictions and are keeping the zero COVID policy in place.
On Tuesday, Rubio said the protests in China show that people everywhere will always fight for freedom.
"What we're learning is that the people of China are human beings," Rubio said. "Human beings don't like to be locked up. They don't like to be told they can't go out, they can't go to work, they can't socialize, they can't go see family members, they can't go to entertainment and have fun, for long periods of time by their government.
"In every country in the world where that's been tried, people have rebelled, even in a totalitarian state like China."
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