Protests and unrest in China over President Xi Jinping’s zero-tolerance Covid policy and continuing lockdowns have now spread from Beijing and the western region of Xinjiang to numerous other cities, including Shanghai and Wuhan, and has reached as far east as Nanjing.
Friday demonstrations were held in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, after a fire there killed residents locked inside a building due to Xi Jinping’s zero-tolerance Covid policy and recent lockdowns that have been in place for more than 100 days. Officially, only 10 deaths have been reported. However, there are reports from citizens that up to 40 people died in the fire. Protests and demonstrations continued into the weekend.
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It is rare in China for protests about the same issue to break out in multiple cities, as the ruling party has cracked down on dissent and nationwide protests since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. Only local demonstrations have been allowed in recent years.
Videos have been circulating on social media of demonstrations on a street in central Shanghai with demonstrators demanding an end to the Covid lockdowns. Another video emerged on Twitter of a protest at a Beijing university.
According to reports from the BBC, demonstrators in Shanghai, China’s largest city, were heard shouting anti-government slogans such as, “Communist party, step down!” and “Xi Jinping, step down!” at a protest Saturday night.
Protestors were not the only ones who want to see an end to the Covid lockdowns. A woman told the BBC that the police said they feel “the same as you” about the demonstrations but still had to do their job. Meanwhile, foreigners who live in China took to Twitter to express their amazement at the recent rash of protests across the country.
One of the larger protests was at Tsinghua University, one of the country’s most elite schools located in Beijing. A student who witnessed the protests said, “People there were very passionate, the sight of it was impressive.”
While protests grow across China, Xi Jinping continues to double down on China’s zero-tolerance Covid policy, going so far as to begin construction of a quarantine center for up to 80,000 people in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province where Covid cases have been increasing.
Meanwhile, protests and demonstrations spread on Sunday to Wuhan, the city where Covid originated.
While it is unclear what will come from the zero-tolerance protests, it is abundantly clear that Chinese citizens have had enough of Xi Jinping’s ruthless lockdowns and human rights violations.