Protests in China: ‘Xi Jinping, Step Down’

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Credit: via Getty Images

The biggest Chinese towns are now experiencing protests against the country’s harsh COVID regulations, as reported by BBC.

Protestors raged

In both the financial centre of Shanghai and the capital Beijing, protesters gathered.

Many raised blank sheets of paper as a sign of protest and acceptance of the censorship. However, others have gone so far as to demand that President Xi Jinping resign.

Nearly three years of widespread testing, quarantines, and sudden lockdowns have had an impact on millions of people.

In China, where any open criticism of the government could result in severe punishments, it is extremely uncommon for citizens to express their rage at Communist Party leaders in public.

The police have mainly allowed the protests to continue, but on Sunday, cops in Shanghai detained a number of protesters and closed off streets.

Refused allegations 

On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered for several hours on the banks of a river in the capital city of Beijing to sing the national anthem and take in remarks.

According to images and videos shared on social media, dozens of people organised a peaceful protest and sang the national anthem earlier at Beijing’s esteemed Tsinghua University.

Daytime protests also took place in the central towns of Xi’an and Wuhan, where the Covid outbreak began almost three years ago, as well as Chengdu in the southwest.

Social media videos seem to show hundreds of Wuhan citizens going to the streets, with some demonstrators seen tearing down barricades and shattering metal gates.

The most recent upheaval comes following a demonstration in Urumqi, a city in northwest China, where lockdown regulations were criticised for making it difficult to rescue victims of a tower block fire that claimed ten lives. The Chinese government has refuted these allegations.

‘Xi Jinping, step down’

Police maintained a strong presence on Wulumuqi Road in Shanghai, China’s largest city and a centre for international finance, where a candlelight vigil the day before descended into disturbances.

As demonstrators gathered for a second day, the BBC observed police officers, private security guards, and plain-clothes police officers confronting them in the streets.

However, hundreds returned to the same location in the afternoon carrying blank pieces of paper to stage what appeared to be a quiet protest, an eyewitness told the AFP news agency.

People were heard openly yelling chants like “Xi Jinping, step down” and “Communist party, step down” during the demonstration on Saturday night in the city.

Such requirements are incredibly uncommon in China.

‘Shocked and a bit delighted’

However, it appears that the government greatly miscalculated the mounting opposition to the zero-Covid strategy, a strategy that is intrinsically linked to President Xi, who recently vowed that it would not be bucked.

One demonstrator in Shanghai told the BBC that seeing people on the streets left him feeling “shocked and a bit delighted,” adding that it was the first time he had ever witnessed such widespread opposition in China.

He claimed that lockdowns had prevented him from visiting his ill mother, who was receiving cancer treatment, and had left him feeling “sad, furious, and helpless.”

Zero-Covid plan

Due in part to China’s relatively low vaccination rates and an aim to protect the elderly, the zero-Covid plan is the last of its sort among the major economies of the globe.

Snap lockdowns have angered people all around the nation, and more general Covid restrictions have sparked recent violent protests from Zhengzhou to Guangzhou. China’s case numbers this week reached all-time highs since the pandemic started, despite the strict measures.

Not so long ago, it was considered inconceivable for people to protest in large numbers and demand President Xi resign.

However, a standard appears to have been set for the expression of more open and acerbic dissent following a recent dramatic protest on a Beijing bridge that surprised many.

Others have chosen to wave the Chinese flag and sing the national anthem, whose lyrics encourage the populace to “stand up, rise up” and espouse revolutionary ideas.

It is a display of patriotism that might also be interpreted as an urgent call to action and a sharp gesture of solidarity with fellow Chinese who are suffering as a result of the zero-Covid policy.

 

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Source: BBC

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