Home News What we know about the historic protests against the “zero covid” policy and Xi Jinping

What we know about the historic protests against the “zero covid” policy and Xi Jinping

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Hundreds of people took to the streets over the weekend to protest against the strict “zero Covid” policy of the Chinese authorities. The protesters have even openly expressed their hostility to President Xi Jinping’s regime.

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By its scale on the ground, the mobilization, the total number of participants of which is difficult to ascertain, appears to be the most significant since the pro-democracy riots of 1989. It is the culmination of popular discontent that has not stopped rising in recent months in China. “Lopes” assesses.

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The beginnings of the protest

China is tirelessly pursuing a “zero Covid” health policy, which includes strict restrictions, quarantining those who test positive and near-daily PCR tests, sparking growing discontent among the population.

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Dissatisfaction turned into real mobilization on Wednesday, November 23. Hundreds of Foxconn workers have shown their anger about their living conditions at the world’s largest iPhone factory, owned by Taiwanese subcontractor Foxconn and under strict anti-Covid restrictions. Facing an increase in coronavirus cases since October, the company is cornered.

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• Urumqi fire stimulates anger

The deadly fire in Urumqi, the capital of the (northwest) Xinjiang region, on November 22 angered many Chinese, and some accused the health restrictions of hampering relief work. 38 people were killed and two others were injured. The authorities accused the employees of mishandling.

• Demonstrators in major cities

On Sunday, a crowd of protesters, in response to calls on social networks, expressed their anger particularly in Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan, surprising the police. Among the slogans that were chanted with one voice: “No Covid tests, we are hungry!”And the “Xi Jinping, quit! CCP [Parti communiste chinois, NDLR]And the Withdraws! »And the “No to imprisonment, we want freedom”. Two people were arrested on Monday in Shanghai.

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Even more than desiring an end to the “Zero Covid” policy, the demonstrations this weekend have led to calls for greater political freedoms, even over the departure of President Xi Jinping, who has just been reappointed to an unprecedented third term at the head of the country.

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Chinese protesters have found creative ways to express their opposition with blank sheets of paper, the national anthem or puns. Demonstrators in several cities, including Beijing, waved white A4 sheets of paper in solidarity on Sunday, referring to the lack of freedom of expression in China.

• Arresting a BBC journalist

The BBC reported on Sunday that one of its correspondents in China, who was covering protests in Shanghai against the regime’s strict “zero Covid” policy, had been arrested and “beaten by the police”.

The BBC is deeply concerned about the treatment of journalist Ed Lawrence who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai.A spokesman for the group said in a statement sent to Agence France-Presse. according to him, “He was beaten and beaten by the police”while working as an accredited journalist in the country.

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British Business Secretary Grant Shapps ruled “unacceptable” And the “Regarding” Violence denounced by the BBC. Whatever happens, freedom of the press must be sacred.The minister said on private radio LBC.

Beijing confirmed on Monday that Ed Lawrence did not identify himself as a journalist. “According to what we learned from the relevant authorities in Shanghai, he did not identify himself as a journalist and did not voluntarily provide his press credentials.”Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reassured, asking foreign media Comply with Chinese laws and regulations when [de leur séjour] In China “.

Government repression and censorship

What is the government’s response to this historic movement? On the streets, a constant police presence. Internet censorship.

On the morning of Monday, November 28, AFP journalists noticed a police presence in Beijing and Shanghai, close to the places where the previous day had gathered. One of the streets inhabited by the crowd during the night is now lined with blue barriers along the sidewalks to prevent any further congregation.

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On Chinese social networks, all information regarding these demonstrations appeared to have been erased on Monday morning. On the Weibo platform, a kind of Chinese Twitter search Liangma River And the Urumqi StreetThey are two of the places of protests the day before, and he did not give any results related to mobilization.

Videos showing students singing and protesting in other cities also disappeared from the WeChat network. These have been replaced with messages saying the post has been reported “Due to sensitive or illegal content”. On Weibo, a search for the keyword #A4—referring to white papers held up during rallies—seems to have been modified to return only some results from previous days.

• Easing restrictions in Xinjiang

The Chinese system also confirmed that “The fight against Covid-19 will be successful”. Despite everything, Xinjiang province, located in northwest China, on Monday eased many of the Covid restrictions in its capital, Urumqi.

Urumqi residents, some of whom have been confined to their homes for weeks, will be able to travel by bus to run errands in their area from Tuesday, officials said at a news conference. Package deliveries may resume, but logistics staff must remain on call. ” Closed circle “ in the company’s dormitories.

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Some of the core businesses located in their areas “low risk” Operations can be requested to resume (at 50% capacity), while public transport and flights will start “Resume in an orderly manner”officials said the day before.

city ​​officials said on Saturday “Social transfers have been practically reduced to zero” And that life will resume “Natural course for residents of low-risk areas in a gradual and orderly manner”.

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