Protests spread to cities and schools in China on Saturday night amid growing public outrage over the country’s tight but falsifying control measures over the spread of Covid , with a crowd in Shanghai going as far as calling for the removal of the nation’s leader, Xi Jinping.
The protest comes after anger erupted online and after a street protest broke out on Friday in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region in western China, where at least 10 people died and nine others were injured a day earlier in an apartment fire. Many Chinese say they suspect that the dead were prevented from leaving their homes by Covid restrictions – despite the government’s denial.
The tragedy has sparked broader calls for officials to ease China’s harsh regime of Covid tests, urban lockdowns and movement restrictions three years after the pandemic.
Saturday’s biggest protest seems to have happened in Shanghai, where college and university students were among hundreds who gathered at the intersection of Urumqi Road — named after the city in Xinjiang — to commemorate the dead with candles and signs. The numbers were growing, despite police efforts to contain the crowds, and chants broke out, with people calling for the easing of Covid control measures, the video showed.
“We want freedom,” protesters chanted.
They use obscene language to denounce asking people to register with the Covid phone app in public places like shops and parks. While a series of police officers watched, some in the crowd direct their anger at Mr. Xia rare act of political defiance that is likely to alarm Communist Party officials, prompting tighter censorship and control.
“Xi Jinping!” One man in the crowd kept shouting.
“Step down!” Some chanted in response.
Xi was elected to a breakthrough third term as general secretary of the communist party last month, asserting his status as China’s most powerful leader in decades. He also assembled a new national leadership team of loyal officials, and his hold on power seemed assured.
But the night of public outrage indicated that Xi’s strict Covid policies, which were seen as a success for China after the pandemic spread globally from there in early 2020, are becoming increasingly popular. become a liability. Covid control measures have hurt restaurants, tour operators and other small businesses, exacerbating China’s recent economic downturn.
The outbreak of discontent is also likely to put more pressure on the Chinese government’s efforts to uphold its “dynamic no Covid” policy. This month, the government announced measures to ease restrictions that have made travel and business difficult for many residents. But local governments are still under pressure to keep the number of infections close to zero, leading to confusion and errors in the rules.
The deadly fire in Urumqi seems to crystallize public anger at those pressures.
“I felt like a coward before, but now I feel like I can stand up,” said one young man from Xinjiang. tell a gathering at a campus of Communication University of China in Nanjing, eastern China, according to a video published online and the location verified by The Times. Hundreds of people held up their phones like lit candles.
“I speak for my home region, for friends who have lost loved ones and relatives in the fire disaster and,” he added, “for those who have passed away.”
Section of the heron and King of Death contribution report.