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China fines former NBA star Lin over quarantine comments

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BEIJING — Former NBA star Jeremy Lin, who plays for a Chinese team, was fined 10,000 yuan ($1,400) for “inappropriate remarks” on social media about quarantine facilities ahead of a game, China’s skilled league announced Friday, as the federal government tries to stop protests against anti-virus controls which are among the many world’s most stringent.

Also Friday, more cities eased restrictions, allowing shopping malls, supermarkets and other businesses to reopen following protests last weekend in Shanghai and other areas by which some crowds called for President Xi Jinping to resign. Urumqi within the northwest, site of a deadly fire that triggered the protests, announced supermarkets and other businesses were reopening.

Lin, who plays for the Loong Lions Basketball Club, made “inappropriate remarks about quarantine hotel-related facilities” where the team stayed Wednesday ahead of a game, the China Basketball Association announced. It said that “caused hostile effects on the league and the competition area.”

The ruling Communist Party is attempting to crush criticism of the human cost and disruption of its “zero-COVID” strategy, which has confined hundreds of thousands of individuals to their homes. Protesters have been detained and photos and videos of events deleted from Chinese social media. Police fanned out across Shanghai, Beijing and other cities to attempt to prevent additional protests.

The CBA gave no details of Lin’s comments and there was no sign of them on his account on the favored Sina Weibo platform.

The Shanghai news outlet The Paper reported Lin posted a video complaining about hotel workout facilities in the town of Zhuji, south of Shanghai in Zhejiang province, ahead of games next week.

“Can you think it is a weight room?” Lin was quoted as saying. “What sort of garbage is that this?” The Paper said the video was deleted after “the situation was clarified” that the hotel was just for a temporary stay required by regulations.

A representative of Vision China Entertainment, which says on its website it represents Lin, didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment. Phone calls to Loong Lions Basketball Club headquarters within the southern city of Guangzhou weren’t answered.

Lin, born in California to folks from Taiwan, was the primary American of Chinese or Taiwanese descent to play within the NBA.

Lin played for California’s Golden State Warriors in 2010 before joining the Recent York Knicks within the 2011-12 season. He became the primary Asian American to win an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. He played for the Beijing Geese in 2019 before joining the Loong Lions.

On Friday, there have been no signs of more protests.

The federal government reported 34,980 infections found prior to now 24 hours, including 30,702 with no symptoms.

China’s case numbers are low, but “zero-COVID” goals to isolate every infected person. That has led local officials to suspend access to neighborhoods and shut schools, shops and offices. Manufacturers including the biggest iPhone factory in central China use “closed-loop” management, which requires employees to live at their workplace without outside contact.

Demonstrations erupted Nov. 25 after a fire in an Urumqi apartment constructing killed at the least 10 people.

That set off indignant questions online about whether firefighters or victims attempting to escape were blocked by locked doors or other anti-virus controls. Authorities denied that, however the deaths became a spotlight of public frustration.

Xi’s government has promised to cut back the associated fee and disruption of controls but says it is going to stick to “zero-COVID.” Health experts and economists expect it so stay in place at the least until mid-2023 and possibly into 2024 while hundreds of thousands of older persons are vaccinated in preparation for lifting controls that keep most visitors out of China.

Urumqi will “further increase efforts to resume production and commerce” by reopening hotels, restaurants, large supermarkets and ski resorts, the official newspaper Guangming Day by day reported on its website, citing Sui Rong, a member of the Municipal Committee.

Elsewhere, the northern city of Hohhot within the Inner Mongolia region restarted bus service and allowed restaurants and small businesses to reopen, in keeping with state media. Jinzhou within the northeast lifted curbs on movement and allowed businesses to reopen.

On Thursday, the metropolis of Guangzhou within the south, the largest hotspot in the most recent infection spike, allowed supermarkets and restaurants to reopen.

Other major cities including Shijiazhuang within the north and Chengdu within the southwest restarted bus and subway service and allowed businesses to reopen.

China’s central authorities have sought to rein in overzealous local officials, who’re under intense pressure to proceed with opening while stopping latest outbreaks.

“Without approval, it’s strictly forbidden to arbitrarily close schools and suspend classes, suspend work and production, block traffic or implement isolation measures,” the Communist Party newspaper People’s Day by day said in an editorial Friday.

Officials who impose open-ended isolation measures without authorization will likely be “strictly held accountable in accordance with laws and regulations,” the newspaper said.

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This story corrects that Lin was the primary American of Chinese or Taiwanese ancestry to play in NBA.

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