Protests erupt across China in an unprecedented challenge to Xi Jinping’s zero-Kovid policy

Protests erupt across China in an unprecedented challenge to Xi Jinping's zero-Kovid policy
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Protests broke out everywhere Chinese On Saturday, hundreds of people in universities and Shanghai shouted, “Express, Xi Jinping! Back off, Communist Party!” in an unprecedented display of challenge to the country’s rigid and increasingly costly zero-COVID policy.

AND deadly fire An apartment block in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang’s far western region, served as a catalyst to fuel public anger when videos emerged suggesting that lockdown measures delayed firefighters’ arrival in the area, which killed 10 and injured nine on Thursday. victims.

On dozens of university campuses, students held meetings or hung posters to mourn those killed in the Xinjiang fire and speak out against zero Covid. In many cities, residents of neighborhoods with curfews broke down the barriers and took to the streets. Mass curfew protests ravaging Urumqi Friday night.

Such rampant scenes of anger and defiance – some extended until Sunday – It is extremely rare in China, where the ruling Communist Party brutally suppresses all expressions of opposition. But in the third year of the epidemic, many people have been brought to the brink of the abyss by the government. continuous use lockdowns, Covid tests and quarantines.

Increasing restrictions in recent months, and a series of heartbreaking deaths The accusation of overzealous policing of the controls brought matters to a climax.

The anger has sparked notable defiance in Shanghai’s financial district, where most of the city’s 25 million residents hold a deep grudge against zero Covid after two months of isolation in the spring.

Late Saturday night, hundreds of residents gathered for a candlelight vigil on the city’s eponymous Urumqi Road to mourn the victims of the Xinjiang fire, according to videos that were circulated widely on Chinese social media and were immediately censored, and according to a witness. account.

Crowds surrounding a makeshift monument of candles, flowers and banners held up blank white papers and chanted “You need human rights, you need freedom” as a traditional symbolic protest against censorship.

Demonstrators stand next to protest signs in Shanghai, China, on Saturday (November 1st).  26, 2022.

In multiple videos watched by CNN, people could be heard shouting to “resign” to Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Communist Party. The crowd also said, “Don’t ask for a Covid test, ask for freedom!” chanted slogans. and “Don’t ask for dictatorship, demand democracy!”

Some videos show people singing China’s national anthem and International, a standard of the socialist movement, while holding banners protesting the country’s stringent epidemic measures.

According to an eyewitness, lines of police officers, initially looking outside, began moving around 3 am to push back and separate the crowd, leading to tense confrontations with the protesters.

The witness told CNN that after 4:30 in the morning, they saw several people arrested and put into a police vehicle next to the makeshift monument. The witness said the protest gradually dissipated before dawn.

On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of Shanghai residents returned to the area to continue their protest despite the heavy police presence and barricades.

The videos showed hundreds of people at a crossroads, “Free the people!” he was shouting. demanded that the police release the detained demonstrators.

the shouting crowds

This time, the police seemed to have taken a tougher approach, moving faster and more aggressively to make arrests and disperse the crowd.

In one video, a man holding a bunch of chrysanthemums was walking on a crosswalk and gave a speech as a police officer tried to stop him.

“We have to be braver! Am I breaking the law by holding flowers?” “No!” he asked the crowd, who shouted in response.

“We Chinese must be braver!” he said to the crowd’s applause. “Yesterday, many of us were arrested. Unemployed or without family? We must not be afraid!”

The angry crowd shouted, “Let him go!” and ran towards the car.

Other videos show chaotic scenes where police push, drag and beat protesters.

In the evening, hundreds of people shouted “threesome” at police after a protester was violently dragged away, according to a live broadcast.

Police officers closed Shanghai's Urumqi Road on Sunday.

Many of the protests erupted on university campuses that were politically sensitive to the Communist Party, especially given the history of the student-led Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, nearly 100 students gathered around a protest slogan painted on the wall at Beijing’s prestigious Peking University. One student told CNN that security guards had covered the protest sign with jackets when she arrived at the scene around 1:00 am.

A security guard tries to cover up a slogan of protest against zero Covid on the Beijing University campus in Beijing.

The message “Say no to isolation, yes to freedom. No to Covid testing, yes to food” was written in red paint reflecting the slogan of a protest on the Beijing flyover in October, just days before an important Communist Party meeting at which Xi was guaranteed his third term. strength.

“Open your eyes and look at the world, dynamic zero Covid is a lie,” read the protest slogan at Peking University.

The student said that the security guards later covered the slogan with black paint.

The students then gathered to sing the International before being dispersed by teachers and security guards.

Students at the Communication University of Nanjing, China, hold a vigil on Saturday evening to mourn those killed in the Xinjiang fire.

In eastern Jiangsu province, at least dozens of students from China’s Nanjing University of Communication gathered on Saturday evening to mourn those killed in the Xinjiang fire. Videos show students holding white papers and mobile phone flashlights.

In one video, a university official was heard warning students: “Today you will pay for what you did.”

“So are you and the country,” one student shouted in response.

Campus protests continued on Sunday. At Tsinghua University, another top university in Beijing, hundreds of students gathered in a square to protest zero Covid and censorship.

Hundreds of students at Tsinghua University in Beijing gathered on Sunday to protest zero Covid and censorship.

In the videos and images circulating on social media, the students lifted the white papers and said, “Democracy and the rule of law! Freedom of expression!”

In one video, a female student shouted, “From today on, I will no longer perform blowjobs for government power!”

In other parts of the country, residents demonstrated against the isolation in their neighborhoods, following sweeping protests in Urumqi that forced authorities to announce a gradual easing of more than 100 days of isolation.

According to videos circulating on Chinese social media and one Urumqi resident, hundreds of Urumqi residents marched to a government building on Friday night, some holding the Chinese flag and chanting “end the isolations”. Smaller protests broke out in residential areas across the city, and in these protests, residents broke down isolation barriers and argued with authorities.

Urumqi residents demonstrated in front of a government building on Friday night against the months-long Covid isolation.

Over the weekend, anti-isolation protests shook neighborhoods in Beijing, Guangzhou and cities from Wuhan to Lanzhou.

According to social media videos, residents of multiple residential areas in Beijing disobeyed curfew orders. In a compound, residents marched and said, “Say no to Covid tests, yes to freedom!”

In the northwestern city of Lanzhou, residents rushed out of locked settlements to roam the streets freely on Saturday. Videos posted to CNN by a resident show some of them smashing a Covid workers tent and smashing a test booth.

Earlier this month, residents of the same neighborhood took to the streets to demand a response from the authorities over the death of a 3-year-old boy. He died of gas poisoning after his father was prevented from taking him to the hospital immediately.

This area and other parts of Lanzhou have been locked since October 1.

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