Anti-lockdown protests intensify across China as demonstrators, police clash
As China is struggling to contain rising COVID-19 cases which are breaking records with every passing day, anti-lockdown protests are said to be growing in the country's major cities with reports of clashes. On Saturday, China's National Health Commission (NHC) reported 39,791 new cases, the highest since the beginning of the pandemic in December 2019, although most patients among these are asymptomatic.
Why does this story matter?
- The residents of China have reportedly been under lockdown for quite some time in view of the viral spread.
- Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, is experiencing the country's longest lockdown for over three months.
- The anti-lockdown protests intensified after a fire in a residential building left 10 people dead on Thursday, and it was propagated that the lockdown impeded rescue efforts.
Blank sheets of paper and flowers become modes of protest
Reuters reported that protesters in Shanghai took out a vigil for the fire victims on Saturday and called for ending the lockdown, sloganeering against the government and President Xi Jinping. They held up blank sheets of paper—symbolizing censorship—and flowers for a supposed silent demonstration. Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in the city on Sunday night as demonstrations continued for the third day.
Protesters reportedly call for Jinping to step down
上海乌鲁木齐路 民众高喊— 李老师不是你老师 (@whyyoutouzhele) November 26, 2022
Police, protesters clashed in Shanghai
Clashes erupted between demonstrators and police in Shanghai as protests over China's stringent COVID restrictions flared for the third day and spread to several cities https://t.co/knbPuyvkyl pic.twitter.com/K6G02cOZC1— Reuters (@Reuters) November 28, 2022
Protesters smash testing booths in Wuhan
Protesters took to the streets in Wuhan, where the first cases of the then-unidentified virus were detected. As mass tracking and testing are reportedly continuing, public anger is mounting against the curbs on daily life. Videos on social media showed protesters smashing COVID testing booths and metal barricades, demanding freedom from masks, testing, and the lockdown, and calling for "democracy."
University students take to streets in Beijing
Around 200-300 students of the prestigious Tsinghua University, Jinping's alma mater, hit the streets in the country's capital, Beijing against the lockdown on Sunday. In the early hours of Monday, groups of protesters totaling around 1,000 people gathered along the city's 3rd Ring Road near the Liangma River and refused to disperse. The cities of Lanzhou and Chengdu also saw similar protests.
New cases setting a record every day
The NHC on Sunday reported one new death, taking the total number of fatalities to 5,233. No death was reported on the previous day and the total number of new cases stood at 35,183. Among the record 39,791 cases, 39,506 were reported locally and the rest were imported infections. Among the total cases, 36,082 were asymptomatic.