Published1 day ago
Protesters have taken to the streets across China to rally against enduring Covid restrictions.
Millions of people have been living under lockdowns, mass testing regimes and enforced isolation as part of China’s zero-Covid policy for the past three years.
But a wave of protests now presents President Xi Jinping with an unprecedented challenge, in a country where voicing anti-government opinions can have severe consequences.
Here we look are where protests are happening and why – and how people are making their voices heard.
Many of the demonstrations in the last few days appear linked to a fire in a tower block in the north-western city of Urumqi, where lockdown rules were blamed for hampering rescue efforts, resulting in 10 dead. Chinese authorities deny the claims.
In Beijing, protesters held a vigil for the victims and protested against Covid restrictions, with many people waving a white piece of paper as a symbol of censorship.
Barriers have been set up in Shanghai, where large crowds have met over a number of nights to protest against lockdown measures.
Protesters had gathered in Wulumuqi Street – named after Urumqi, the scene of the tower block fire. They also held sheets of white paper and flowers during silent protests.
During Saturday night’s protest, people were heard openly shouting “Xi Jinping, step down” and “Communist party, step down” – public criticism that is highly unusual for China.
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Several protesters were arrested.
Away from Beijing and Shanghai, the authorities have also faced angry protests linked to Covid restrictions.
There were violent clashes last week at the world’s largest iPhone factory, in Zhengzhou, Henan province, where more than 200,000 workers had been under lockdown since October.
Hundreds of workers marched over the enforced lockdown and claims of overdue pay. The company, Foxconn, later apologised for a “technical error” in its payment systems.
But the city of Zhengzhou itself, with a population of around six million, has since gone into lockdown, with authorities saying people would not be able to leave the area unless they had a negative Covid test.
There have also been protests in Wuhan – where Covid-19 first emerged. Video posted on social media shows people pushing down a fence that had been erected as part of Covid measures.
— 自由亚洲电台 (@RFA_Chinese) November 27, 2022
Discussion of the protests, photos and videos have been posted on social media – but have also been taken down by censors.
Protests are reported to have taken place in other places including Lanzhou, Guangzhou, Nanjing and Chengdu.