Xi’s China Cracks Down As Deadly Fire Sparks Protests Against Covid Curbs

Xi's China Cracks Down As Deadly Fire Sparks Protests Against Covid Curbs

China reported 40,052 domestic Covid-19 cases Monday

As protests over China’s draconian ‘Zero Covid’ policy flared up in several cities, authorities moved to censor online content on the rare demonstrations.

  1. The protests have been fuelled by frustration at the central government’s zero-Covid policy, which sees authorities impose snap lockdowns, lengthy quarantines and mass testing campaigns over just a handful of cases.

  2. A deadly fire on Thursday in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang region, has become a fresh catalyst for public anger, with many blaming Covid lockdowns for hampering rescue efforts. Authorities deny the claims.

  3. Hundreds of people massed outside Urumqi’s government offices after the deadly fire, chanting: “Lift lockdowns!”

  4. On Sunday night, at least 400 people gathered on the banks of a river in the capital Beijing for several hours, with some shouting: “We are all Xinjiang people! Go Chinese people!”

  5. In downtown Shanghai, China’s biggest metropolis, police clashed with groups of protesters, as officers tried to move people away from the site. Some of them were seen chanting “Xi Jinping, step down! CCP, step down!”

  6. Protests also occurred on Sunday in Wuhan, the central city where Covid-19 first emerged, while there were reports of demonstrations in Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong.

  7. Earlier on Sunday, around 200 to 300 students rallied at Beijing’s elite Tsinghua University to protest against lockdowns. Videos from campuses in Xi’an, Guangzhou and Wuhan showed similar protests.

  8. State censors appeared to have scrubbed Chinese social media of any news about the rallies, with the search terms “Liangma River”, “Urumqi Road” — sites of protests in Beijing and Shanghai — scrubbed of any references to the rallies on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.

  9. The BBC said on Sunday one of its journalists in China had been arrested, handcuffed and beaten by police while covering protests in Shanghai.

  10. China reported 40,052 domestic Covid-19 cases Monday, a record high but tiny compared to caseloads in the West at the height of the pandemic.

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