Home News Protests against the “zero Covid” policy are taking on an unprecedented scale in China

Protests against the “zero Covid” policy are taking on an unprecedented scale in China

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In memory of the observers, this has been unheard of since the occupation of Tiananmen Square in June 1989. This weekend, in several cities in China, hundreds of people spontaneously took to the streets to protest against the strict “zero Covid” policy of the Chinese authorities. Even rarer, many have expressed hostility to President Xi Jinping’s regime and the Chinese Communist Party.

The Zero Covid policy is putting China under pressure

In Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan (in the center of the country) and Urumqi (in Xinjiang) … Protesters denounced the unexpected, widespread and endless confinement for the slightest case discovery, the systematic quarantine of contact cases in camps and negative PCR tests that require almost daily access to public places. This discontent has been fueled by several high-profile cases in which emergency services, during accidents, were allegedly slowed down by health restrictions, with disastrous consequences.

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“Shanghai is no better than Pyongyang”: in China, the scourge of the “Zero Covid” policy

But Thursday’s fire in Urumqi, the capital of the (western) region of Xinjiang, killed ten people, which constituted a spark, if not a general conflagration, of collective discontent.

Anger over China’s “zero Covid” policy mounts after a deadly fire

Many posts circulating on social media accused anti-Covid measures of exacerbating this tragedy, as cars parked for weeks due to confinement in the narrow alley leading to the burning building impeded rescue access. Despite the censorship, dozens of videos were released showing the extent of the moves.

In Shanghai, they chanted “Xi Jinping resigns!”

On Sunday afternoon, hundreds of people marched silently in central Shanghai, the country’s economic capital, a city of 25 million that at the start of the year underwent an grueling two-month confinement. Carrying white flowers and white leaves — which has become a symbol of protest against censorship — the demonstrators positioned themselves in silence at several intersections before being dispersed by police, according to witnesses.

There was another protest the night before not far from there. A video widely circulated online and geotagged by AFP showed people shouting “Xi Jinping, resign! » As well as tracking down the Chinese Communist Party. This first protest was held at dawn on Sunday on Wolumukhi Street – the Mandarin name for the city of Urumqi. “There were some minor scuffles but in general the police action was civil.”In the words of a witness told AFP. “It’s crazy to know that in these circumstances, there are still so many brave people who stand out.”Hoot.

sequel after announcement

Several witnesses reported that security forces took away at least two people. Asked by AFP, the local police did not respond.

Protests at the prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing

Between 200 and 300 students from Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University – where Xi Jinping studied – also demonstrated on their campuses on Sunday, according to a witness interviewed by AFP and photos posted on social networks.

This witness reported that at around 11:30 am (3:30 GMT), a female student started waving a white sheet of paper and other women joined her. “We sang the national and international anthem, and chanted: Freedom will triumph,” “No PCR tests, we want food,” “No to imprisonment, we want freedom.”This witness said again.

Online videos showed a crowd in front of the university canteen, gathered around the speaker, who shouted: “It’s not a normal life, we’ve had enough. Our life has never been like this!” Another video apparently taken from the same location shows the students screaming: “Democracy and the rule of law, freedom of expression”but was quickly removed from the Internet.

sequel after announcement

A vigil of remembrance for the victims of the Urumqi fire was also held from Saturday to Sunday at Peking University, neighboring Tsinghua University. According to one of the participating students, the demonstrators began to gather on Saturday evening around midnight inside the university campus, and the crowd reached between 100 and 200 people.

‘I heard people shouting: No to covid testing, yes to freedom’He showed photos and video clips to AFP confirming his statements.

According to a former BBC journalist, more than 50 universities have been the scene of the protests.

Wuhan joins the movement

Nearly three years to the day after the detection of the world’s first case of Covid-19 in this city, hundreds of people demonstrated Sunday evening in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. According to videos broadcast live on social media and geolocated by AFP, a crowd of angry residents gathered.

sequel after announcement

Video clips on social networks showed a large protest at the Communications Institute in Nanjing (east), as well as small gatherings in Xian and Guangzhou (south), but it was not possible to confirm the authenticity of these images. AFP confirmed. Videos showed Lanzhou residents overturning test stands.

Censorship

Hashtags related to the protests have been blocked on the Weibo platform, and sensitive videos have been removed from Duoyin and Kuaishou sharing sites.

Another obvious trick: infesting Twitter with escort ads to complicate the search for information on the social network. Chinese bots are flooding Twitter with escort ads, possibly to make it difficult for Chinese users to access information about the mass protests. Some of these accounts have been inactive for years, and became active yesterday after the protests began in China.indicates this Internet user.

Sporadic and sometimes violent protests have already occurred across the country in recent days, including at the world’s largest iPhone factory in downtown Zhengzhou.

China recorded 39,506 cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, a daily record still very low compared to numbers recorded elsewhere in the world at the height of the pandemic.

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