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

Protests erupt across China in unprecedented challenge to Xi Jinping's zero-covid policy
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Beijing
CNN

Protests broke out all over Porcelain on Saturday, including at universities and in Shanghai, where hundreds chanted “Resign, Xi Jinping! Stand down, Communist Party!” in an unprecedented show of defiance against the country’s strict and increasingly costly zero-Covid policy.

A deadly fire in an apartment block in Urumqi, the capital of the western Xinjiang region, which killed 10 people and injured nine on Thursday has acted as a catalyst for public anger, as videos emerged that seemed to suggest that the lockdown measures delayed firefighters from reaching the victims

Protests broke out in cities and universities across China on Saturday, with some extending into Sunday, according to social media videos and witness accounts.

On dozens of university campuses, students held rallies or put up banners to mourn those killed in the Xinjiang fire and speak out against covid zero. In several cities, residents of gated communities tore down barriers and took to the streets, following Massive anti-lockdown protests sweeping Urumqi Friday night.

Such widespread scenes of anger and defiance are exceptionally rare in China, where the ruling Communist Party ruthlessly suppresses all expressions of dissent. But three years into the pandemic, the government has brought many people to the brink. incessant use of lockdowns, Covid tests and quarantines. Public anger has reached a boiling point following a series of heartbreaking deaths that have been blamed on Covid control measures.

Demonstrators stand next to protest banners in Shanghai, China on Saturday, November 2, 2019. 26, 2022.

The anger led to notable acts of defiance on Saturday night in Shanghai, where hundreds of residents gathered at an intersection to mourn the victims of the Xinjiang fire, according to videos that circulated widely, and were quickly censored, on social media. chinas and an eyewitness account.

Surrounding a makeshift memorial of candles, flowers and banners, the crowd held up blank sheets of paper, in what is traditionally a symbolic protest against censorship, and chanted: “Human rights are needed, freedom is needed.”

In multiple videos viewed by CNN, people could be heard chanting demands that China’s leader Xi Jinping and the Communist Party “resign.” The crowd also chanted: “I don’t want the covid test, I want freedom!” and “I don’t want dictatorship, I want democracy!”

Some videos show people singing China’s national anthem and The Internationale, a standard of the socialist movement, while holding banners protesting the country’s exceptionally strict anti-pandemic measures.

Rows of police, initially watching from the outside, began moving to push back and divide the crowd around 3 a.m., sparking tense clashes with protesters, according to a witness.

The witness told CNN they saw several people arrested and taken to a police vehicle next to the makeshift memorial after 4:30 a.m. The protest gradually dispersed before dawn, the witness said.

A security guard tries to cover up a protest slogan against covid zero at the Peking University campus in Beijing.

Many of the protests have broken out on university campuses, which are particularly politically sensitive for the Communist Party, given the history of the student-led Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

Around midnight on Sunday, around 100 students rallied around a protest slogan painted on a wall at the prestigious Peking University in Beijing. A student told CNN that when he arrived at the scene around 1 am, the security guards were wearing jackets to cover the protest banner.

“Say no to lockdown, yes to freedom. No to covid testing, yes to food,” read the message written in red paint, echoing the slogan of a protest that took place on a Beijing overpass in October. , just days before a key Communist Party meeting in which Xi secured a third term in Energy.

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

The student said that security guards then covered the slogan in black paint.

Later, the students gathered to sing the Internationale before being dispersed by teachers and security guards.

Students from the Communication University of China, Nanjing, gather for a vigil on Saturday night to mourn the victims of the Xinjiang fire.

In the eastern province of Jiangsu, at least dozens of students from the Communication University of China, Nanjing, gathered Saturday night to mourn those who died in the Xinjiang fire. Videos show students holding sheets of white paper and cell phone flashlights.

In one video, a university official could be heard warning students: “You will pay for what you did today.”

“You too, and so does the country,” a student yelled back.

Protests on campus continued on Sunday. At Tsinghua University, another of the best universities in Beijing, hundreds of students gathered in a square to protest against covid zero and censorship.

Hundreds of students from Tsinghua University in Beijing gathered on Sunday to protest against covid zero and censorship.

Videos and images circulating on social media show students holding up sheets of white paper and chanting: “Democracy and rule of law! Freedom of expression!”

In one video, a student could be heard shouting to the cheers of the crowd: “From today, I will no longer perform oral sex for state power!”

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