Protests are breaking out all over China, universities and hundreds including in Shanghai chanted “Xi Jinping Step Down! Resign the Communist Party!” There was an unprecedented backlash against the country’s draconian and increasingly expensive zero-covid policy.
A deadly apartment fire in the country’s western region of Xinjiang that killed 10 people and injured nine on Thursday appears to have fueled anger.
Protests erupted in cities and universities across China in the early hours of Saturday and Sunday, according to social media videos and witness accounts.
Videos of hundreds of people lighting candles in Shanghai on Saturday to pay their respects to those who died in the Xinjiang fires have been widely circulated on Chinese social media.
The crowd then held up blank white papers – traditionally a symbol of protest against censorship – and chanted “human rights, freedom”.
In several videos seen by CNN, people could be heard shouting for Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party to step down. The crowd chanted “No covid testing, we want freedom!” They also chanted. and “No Dictatorship, Democracy!”
Some videos show people singing China’s national anthem and The Internationale, a standard of the socialist movement, while holding banners protesting Beijing’s exceptionally tough pandemic measures.
Protests also broke out in the capital, Beijing. A student at the prestigious Peking University told CNN that when he arrived at the protest site around 1 a.m. Sunday local time, there were about 100 students and that security guards used jackets to cover up protest slogans painted on the wall.
“Say No to Lockdown, Yes to Freedom. No to Covid testing, yes to food,” read a message scrawled in red paint, echoing the slogan of a protest on a Beijing overpass in October, days before a key Communist Party meeting where Xi was sworn in for a third term. power
“Open your eyes and see the world, dynamic zero-covid is a lie,” read a protest slogan from Peking University.
The student said security guards then covered the text with black paint.
Students then gathered to sing The Internationale before being dispersed by teachers and security guards.
In the eastern province of Jiangsu, dozens of students from the Communication University of China gathered to pay their respects to those who died in the Nanjing Xinjiang fire. Videos show students holding white sheets of paper and mobile phones holding flashlights.
In one video, a university official could be heard warning students: “You will pay for what you did today.”
“You and the country will happen,” shouted a student in response.