BEIJING: Dozens of workers clashed with police at a Covid test kit factory in China, video shared on social media showed on Sunday, as the country backs away from its hardline virus policy.
AFP geotagged footage from an industrial park in the southwestern city of Chongqing shows people throwing crates at a group of uniformed men, sending what appear to be test kits flying .
Another clip shows a crowd in front of a line of police at night as loudspeakers play a warning asking them to ‘cease illegal activities’.
A man who posted video of the scene said in an accompanying caption that many workers had not been paid.
Other posts alleged that a Chongqing-based pharmaceutical company Zybio suddenly dismissed workers who had been recruited in recent weeks.
Zybio did not immediately respond to calls from AFP, while local police declined to comment.
“All workers’ demands are of an economic nature,” said a man in a video who called himself a “Marxist-Leninist-Maoist”. He insisted there was no political motive behind the protest.
AFP could not confirm exactly when the videos were captured, although several social media users said the clash happened from Saturday night to Sunday morning.
Brown and white industrial buildings with distinct patterns can be seen in the background of the videos, matching earlier images of Zybio’s facility in Dadukou District’s Jianqiao Industrial Park.
The hashtag “Chongqing Dadukou Pharmaceutical Factory” appeared to be censored on popular social media platform Weibo on Sunday, with only one post from the day before still visible describing the protest as an “interesting topic”.
A video posted to a TikTok account owned by state media showed what it claimed was a street littered with antigen tests in an industrial park in Chongqing.
“Sources say a labor dispute sparked a dispute,” the caption read. The video was taken down within hours.
Covid-19 infections have soared across China as the government moves away from its zero-tolerance approach to the virus, prompting a surge in demand for test kits and drugs.
Authorities last month took over the production lines of more than a dozen pharmaceutical companies, while some companies hired new people to meet growing demand.
Protests centered on labor issues and targeting individual businesses occur frequently in China despite official efforts to quell the unrest.
Similar scenes unfolded at iPhone maker Foxconn’s factory in central China last year, as furious workers unhappy with a Covid lockdown and a pay dispute clashed with the police.
China’s tough Covid restrictions sparked some of the country’s worst unrest in years in November, with hundreds of people on the streets across the country against lockdowns and mandatory testing.
Curbs on the virus were eased soon after the protests.

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