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Protests against China’s strict zero-covid policy spread across the country

Protests against Covid restrictions in China, which started in Xinjiang province in the west following the Urumqi fire disaster that killed 10 people, have now spread across China.

On Thursday, 24th November 2022, a building in Urumqi in Xinjiang caught fire. People could not easily escape the inferno because of the strict lockdown that has been imposed as part of China’s zero-Covid policy. The tragedy sparked angry protests in Urumqi, and now those protests have spread to other major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Lanzhou, along with universities across the country.

Although there has been growing popular opposition to Beijing’s zero-Covid policy, large-scale, confrontational demonstrations are uncommon in China. However, this time, angry protestors are facing off against the police shouting slogans against Chinese president Xi Jinping and the Communist Party.

Videos widely circulated on Chinese social media show hundreds of people in downtown Shanghai shouting “Step down, Xi Jinping! Step down, Communist Party”. The gathered crowd held a candlelight vigil as well in memory of the victims of the Urumqi fire. They also held blank sheets of white paper, as part of a symbolic protest against the oppressive policies of the Chinese regime.

Shanghai was not the only place to see protests against the strict covid lockdowns, protests also broke out in the capital city of Beijing.

Students at the prestigious Peking University in Beijing held a protest shouting slogans demanding the end of lockdowns and implored the government to look at the rest of the world moving on from Covid.

In the city of Lanzhou, protestors destroyed the PCR testing booths set up by the authorities as the anger against the zero-covid policy spilled over.

With the rest of the world moving back to normalcy after Covid, anger against China’s strict restrictions has been growing in the country. During the broadcast of the ongoing FIFA World Cup, visuals of thousands of fans mingling without any masks or restrictions have also sparked anger among the Chinese. Many Chinese citizens were left asking if Qatar is on another planet where they can move around without any restrictions there while we have to live in lockdowns.

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