Protests Against Covid Curbs Spread Like Wildfire Across Chinese Cities

    Protests against President Xi Jinping’s zero-tolerance approach to Covid-19 have spread in several major cities in China as angry crowds call for an end to lockdowns.

    The protests erupted after demonstrations in Xinjiang after a deadly fire on Thursday in Urumqi spurred an outpouring of anger as many social media users blamed lengthy Covid lockdowns in the city for hampering rescue efforts.

    There has been a growing dissatisfaction against China’s strict Covid policy as most of the cities remain locked under the fear of infections. The country is battling a surge in infections that has prompted lockdowns and other restrictions in cities across the country as Beijing adheres to a zero-Covid policy even as much of the world tries to coexist with the coronavirus.

    China reported 39,506 domestic Covid cases Sunday — a record high but comparatively small compared to caseloads in the West at the height of the pandemic.

    News18 takes a look at some of the ongoing protests across China:

    Down With Xi Jinping Slogans in Shanghai

    Protests simmered in Shanghai as residents in several Chinese cities pushed back against heavy Covid-19 curbs nearly three years into the pandemic.

    In Shanghai, China’s most populous city and financial hub, residents gathered on Saturday night at the city’s Wulumuqi Road – which borrows its name from Urumqi – for a vigil that turned into a protest in the early hours of Sunday.

    “Lift lockdown for Urumqi, lift lockdown for Xinjiang, lift lockdown for all of China!” the crowds in Shanghai shouted, according to a video circulated on social media.

    At one point a large group began shouting, “Down with the Chinese Communist Party, down with Xi Jinping, free Urumqi!”, according to witnesses and videos, in a rare public protest against the Chinese leadership. The police used pepper spray against about 300 protesters.

    Protests in Urumqi

    A deadly fire on Thursday in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang region, spurred an outpouring of anger as many social media users blamed lengthy Covid lockdowns in the city for hampering rescue efforts.

    Crowds took to the streets of Urumqi, chanting “End the lockdown!” and pumping their fists in the air after the deadly fire, according to videos circulated on Chinese social media.

    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.

    A video that said it was shot in Urumqi showed protesters chanting, “Remove the Communist Party! Remove Xi Jinping!”

    End The Lockdown Slogan in Beijing

    In Beijing, 2,700 km (1,700 miles) away, some residents under lockdown staged small protests or confronted local officials on Saturday over movement restrictions, with some successfully pressuring them into lifting the curbs ahead of a schedule.

    A video shared with Reuters showed Beijing residents in an unidentifiable part of the capital marching around an open-air carpark on Saturday, shouting “End the lockdown!”

    Violent Clashes in Zhengzhou

    Six million people were on Friday under Covid lockdown in a Chinese city home to the world’s largest iPhone factory, after clashes between police and workers furious over pay.

    Authorities had earlier ordered residents of eight districts in Zhengzhou, in the central province of Henan, not to leave the area for the next five days. The lockdown in Zhengzhou follows protests by hundreds of employees over conditions and pay at Foxconn’s vast iPhone factory on the outskirts of the city, with images of fresh rallies emerging Friday.

    Footage published on social media and geolocated by AFP showed a large group of people walking down a street in the east of the city, some holding signs.

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