PanaTimes

Sunday, Feb 05, 2023

Shanghai hit by Covid protests as anger spreads across China

Shanghai hit by Covid protests as anger spreads across China

Protests against China's heavy COVID-19 curbs spread to more cities, including the financial hub Shanghai on Sunday.

Hundreds of demonstrators and police clashed in Shanghai on Sunday night as protests over China’s stringent Covid restrictions flared for a third day and spread to several cities in the wake of a deadly fire in the country’s far west.

The wave of civil disobedience is unprecedented in mainland China since President Xi Jinping assumed power a decade ago, as frustration mounts over his signature zero-Covid policy nearly three years into the pandemic. The Covid measures are also exacting a heavy toll on the world’s second-largest economy.

“I’m here because I love my country, but I don’t love my government ... I want to be able to go out freely, but I can’t. Our Covid-19 policy is a game and is not based on science or reality,” said a protester in the financial hub named Shaun Xiao.

Protesters also took to the streets in the cities of Wuhan and Chengdu on Sunday, while students on numerous university campuses around China gathered to demonstrate over the weekend.

In the early hours of Monday in Beijing, two groups of protesters totaling at least 1,000 people were gathered along the Chinese capital’s 3rd Ring Road near the Liangma River, refusing to disperse.

“We don’t want masks, we want freedom. We don’t want Covid tests, we want freedom,” one of the groups chanted earlier.

A fire on Thursday at a residential high-rise building in the city of Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region, triggered protests after videos of the incident posted on social media led to accusations that lockdowns were a factor in the blaze that killed 10 people.

Urumqi officials abruptly held a news conference in the early hours of Saturday to deny Covid measures had hampered escape and rescue efforts. Many of Urumqi’s 4 million residents have been under some of the country’s longest lockdowns, barred from leaving their homes for as long as 100 days.

On Sunday in Shanghai, police kept a heavy presence on Wulumuqi Road, which is named after Urumqi, and where a candlelight vigil the day before turned into protests.

“We just want our basic human rights. We can’t leave our homes without getting a test. It was the accident in Xinjiang that pushed people too far,” said a 26-year-old protester in Shanghai who declined to be identified given the sensitivity of the matter.

“The people here aren’t violent, but the police are arresting them for no reason. They tried to grab me but the people all around me grabbed my arms so hard and pulled me back so I could escape.”

By Sunday evening, hundreds of people gathered in the area. Some jostled with police trying to disperse them. People held up blank sheets of paper as an expression of protest.

A Reuters witness saw police escorting people onto a bus which was later driven away through the crowd with a few dozen people on board.

On Saturday, the vigil in Shanghai for victims of the apartment fire turned into a protest against Covid curbs, with the crowd chanting calls for lockdowns to be lifted.

“Down with the Chinese Communist Party, down with Xi Jinping,” one large group chanted in the early hours of Sunday, according to witnesses and videos posted on social media, in a rare public protest against the country’s leadership.


Urumqi, Beijing, Wuhan


Thursday’s fire in Urumqi was followed by crowds there taking to the street on Friday evening, chanting “End the lockdown!” and pumping their fists in the air, according to unverified videos on social media.

On Sunday, a large crowd gathered in the southwestern metropolis of Chengdu, according to videos on social media, where they also held up blank sheets of paper and chanted: “We don’t want lifelong rulers. We don’t want emperors,” a reference to Xi, who has scrapped presidential term limits.

In the central city of Wuhan, where the pandemic began three years ago, videos on social media showed hundreds of residents take to the streets, smashing through metal barricades, overturning Covid testing tents and demanding an end to lockdowns.

Other cities that have seen public dissent include Lanzhou in the northwest, where residents on Saturday overturned Covid staff tents and smashed testing booths, posts on social media showed. Protesters said they were put under lockdown even though no one had tested positive.

The videos could not be independently verified.

At Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University on Sunday, dozens of people held a peaceful protest against Covid restrictions during which they sang the national anthem, according to images and videos posted on social media.


Zero-Covid


China has stuck with Xi’s zero-Covid policy even as much of the world has lifted most restrictions. While low by global standards, China’s case numbers have hit record highs for days, with nearly 40,000 new infections on Saturday, prompting yet more lockdowns in cities across the country.

Beijing has defended the policy as life-saving and necessary to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system. Officials have vowed to continue with it.

Since Shanghai’s 25 million residents were put under a two-month lockdown early this year, Chinese authorities have sought to be more targeted in their Covid curbs, an effort that has been challenged by the surge in infections as the country faces its first winter with the highly transmissible Omicron variant.


Rare protests


Widespread public protest is rare in China, where room for dissent has been all but eliminated under Xi, forcing citizens mostly to vent their frustration on social media, where they play cat-and-mouse with censors.

Frustration is boiling just over a month after Xi secured a third term at the helm of China’s Communist Party.

“This will put serious pressure on the party to respond. There is a good chance that one response will be repression, and they will arrest and prosecute some protesters,” said Dan Mattingly, assistant professor of political science at Yale University.

Still, he said, the unrest is far from that seen in 1989, when protests culminated in the bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square.

He added that as long as Xi had China’s elite and the military on his side, he would not face any meaningful risk to his grip on power.

This weekend, Xinjiang Communist Party Secretary Ma Xingrui called for the region to step up security maintenance and curb the “illegal violent rejection of Covid-prevention measures.”

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanaTimes
Close
0:00
0:00
Tennessee Bill Would Imprison People for 3 Years If They 'Lie' About Rape to Get an Abortion.
Charlie Munger, calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies in the US, following China's lead
EU found a way to use frozen Russian funds
First generation unopened iPhone set to fetch more than $50,000 at auction.
WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT - US Memphis Police murdering innocent Tyre Nichols
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he will block Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from serving on the House Intelligence Committee
Almost 30% of professionals say they've tried ChatGPT at work
Interpol seeks woman who ran elaborate exam cheating scam in Singapore
What is ChatGPT?
Bill Gates is ‘very optimistic’ about the future: ‘Better to be born 20 years from now...than any time in the past’
Tesla reported record profits and record revenues for 2022
Germany confirms it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks
Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre Photo Is Fake: Ghislaine Maxwell
Opinion | Israel’s Supreme Court Claims a Veto on Democracy
Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin Gets Married On His 93rd Birthday
Who’s Threatening Israeli Democracy?
Federal Reserve Probes Goldman’s Consumer Business
China's first population drop in six decades
Microsoft is finalising plans to become the latest technology giant to reduce its workforce during a global economic slowdown
Tesla slashes prices globally by as much as 20 percent
1.4 Million Copies Of Prince Harry's Memoir 'Spare' Sold On 1st Day In UK
After Failing To Pay Office Rent, Twitter May Sell User Names
Lisa Marie Presley, singer and daughter of Elvis, dies aged 54
FIFA president questioned by prosecutors
Britain's Sunak breaks silence and admits using private healthcare
Hype and backlash as Harry's memoir goes on sale. Unnamed royal source says prince 'kidnapped by cult of psychotherapy and Meghan'
Saudi Arabia set to overtake India as fastest-growing major economy this year 
Google and Facebook’s dominance in digital ads challenged by rapid ascent of Amazon and TikTok
FTX fraud investigators are digging deeper into Sam Bankman-Fried's inner circle – and reportedly have ex-engineer Nishad Singh in their sights
TikTok CEO Plans to Meet European Union Regulators
France has banned the online sale of paracetamol until February, citing ongoing supply issues
Japan reportedly to give families 1 million yen per child to move out of Tokyo
Will Canada ever become a real democracy?
Hong Kong property brokerages slash payrolls in choppy market
U.S. Moves to Seize Robinhood Shares, Silvergate Accounts Tied to FTX
Effect of EU sanctions on Moscow is ‘less than zero’ – Belgian MEP
Coinbase to Pay $100 Million in Settlement With New York Regulator
FTX assets worth $3.5bn held by Bahamas securities regulator
A Republican congressman-elect is under investigation in New York after he admitted he lied about his education and work experience.
Brazilian football legend Pele, arguably the greatest player ever, has died at the age of 82.
Hong Kong to scrap almost all its Covid rules
EU calls screening of travellers from China unjustified
US imposes Covid testing for visitors from China
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Addresses Joint Session of Congress - FULL SPEECH
Where is Rishi? Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's excuses about the UK's economic challenges just don't make sense
Former FTX CEO Bankman-Fried finally arrested in Bahamas after U.S. files charges
Corruption works: House Financial Services Chair Waters doesn't plan to subpoena her donor, Sam Bankman-Fried, to testify at hearing on FTX collapse
Ronaldo's new contract...
Prince William's godmother resigns honorary royal role after exposing her/their racism
Tax fraud verdict again exposes illusion of Trump the master businessman
×