Crowds angry over COVID-19 lockdown demand China’s Xi resign

Shanghai — Protesters pushed to the brink by China’s draconian COVID measures in Shanghai demand the removal of the country’s all-powerful leader, as crowds take to the streets of several cities on Sunday in a stunning challenge to the government. clashed with the police on

Police forcefully evict demonstrators in China’s financial capital calling for Xi Jinping’s resignation and an end to Chinese Communist Party rule, but hours later, people regrouped in the same places, social media reports said. The protests have also spread to at least seven other cities, according to the report, including the capital of Beijing and dozens of university campuses.

Large-scale protests are extremely rare in China, where public dissent is routinely discouraged, but direct accusations of Xi, the most powerful leader in decades, are unusual. is.

Three years after the virus first emerged, China is still the only major country trying to stop the spread of COVID-19. This is a “zero COVID” policy that requires millions of people to stay home for weeks at a time, requiring near-constant transmission. test. The measures were initially widely accepted to keep deaths to a minimum while other countries were hit by a devastating wave of infections, but that consensus has begun to fray in recent weeks.

and 10 on friday Died in apartment fireIt ignited protests over the weekend as the Chinese public’s ability to withstand the harsh measures apparently reached a breaking point.

Hundreds of demonstrators flocked to Shanghai late Saturday to experience a devastating lockdown in the spring as people struggled to secure food and medicine and were forced into centralized quarantine. rice field.

In this image from video obtained by the Associated Press, police watch a protester in Shanghai on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022, foreground.


On a street named after a city in far-west China that caught fire, a group of protesters brought candles, flowers and signs honoring those who died in the flames. Another participant was more aggressive, shouting slogans and singing the national anthem, according to protesters who insisted on anonymity.

In a video of the protest seen by the Associated Press, chants were heard loud and clear: “Xi Jinping! Resign! Chinese Communist Party! Resign!” He was nominated for another term as leader of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

The protester and another who only said his last name, Zhao, confirmed the chant.

The atmosphere at the protest encouraged people to talk about topics considered taboo, including the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, when the ruling Communist Party ordered troops to fire on student demonstrators calling for pro-democracy, the anonymous protester said. said the person. Others called for an official apology for the deaths in a fire in Urumqi, Xinjiang. One member of his Uighur tribe, from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and subject to a drastic security crackdown, shared his experience of discrimination and police violence.

“Everyone thinks that Chinese people are afraid to protest and don’t have the courage,” he said. It was an environment where I could get

The initially peaceful scene turned violent in the early hours of Sunday. A second group came in as hundreds of police surrounded the protesters and tried to force people off Main Street after dispersing the first, more active group. Protesters said they saw multiple people being taken away and forcibly loaded into vans by police, but they were unable to identify them.

Police officers guard people participating in a protest against COVID-19 policies in Shanghai, China, November 27, 2022. This screen grab was taken from a social media video.

Eva Lammleu/Reuters

A protester named Zhao said one of his friends was beaten by police and two were pepper sprayed. He lost his shoes in the process and left the protest barefoot.

Zhao said the protesters shouted slogans, which were often chanted: “(We) don’t want PCR[tests]but we want freedom.”

On Sunday afternoon, the crowd returned to the same location and again opposed PCR testing. People stood and filmed when the police started pushing on people.

50 universities were also demonstrating, according to a crowdsourced list on social media. Videos posted on social media appear to have been filmed in Nanjing in the east, Guangzhou in the south, Beijing in the north and at least five other cities, showing demonstrators wearing white protective suits and being attacked by police. and dismantling barricades used to block off neighborhoods. The Associated Press was unable to independently confirm all protests.

In Beijing, students from Tsinghua University, the country’s top university, demonstrated in front of the school cafeteria on Sunday afternoon. At first, three young women stood to offer their condolences to the victims of the Urumqi apartment fire, according to images of the protest seen by the Associated Press and eyewitnesses who declined to give their names for fear of reprisal. .

Students chanted “Freedom of Speech” and sang the socialist national anthem, the Internationale. The school’s Communist Party deputy secretary arrived at the protest and promised to hold a school-wide discussion.

Meanwhile, two cities in northwestern China, where residents have been confined to their homes for up to four months, eased some antivirus controls on Sunday after public protests on Friday.

The fire-hit Urumqi and the small city of Korla are preparing to reopen markets and other businesses in areas deemed at low risk of virus transmission, as well as resume bus, train and airline services, state media said. was Crowds angry over COVID-19 lockdown demand China’s Xi resign

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