China’s anti-lockdown protests spread to Wuhan in major challenge to Xi Jinping

Chinese protestors toppled Covid-quarantine bars in Wuhan, as anti-lockdown demonstrations spread throughout the country. This was the largest challenge to Xi Jinping’s rule since he took power a decade back.

Chanting “We want freedom!” Hunderte of protestors marched through the city, where the coronavirus outbreak first broke out. They ignored orders to show proof that their health was in line with the government’s draconian zero Covid policies.

Protesters in Shanghai called for President Xi Jinping’s resignation, while others yelled “give me liberty or death” in Chengdu.

Police warned protestors not to chant “no More Lockdowns” in Beijing. The crowd then began singing “we want lockdowns!” and “I want Covid tests.”

The country-wide protests mark the culmination of a week of unrest, which included large demonstrations in the Xinjiang region, riots at the iPhone factory in central China and student marches to the campuses of some of China’s most prestigious universities.

Unrest presents a serious threat to Mr Xi who, after spending his first ten years in office squeezing political and civil freedoms, has made himself the ruler for life.

Protests are being described by activists as the greatest threat to the Communist Party’s existence since 1989’s Tiananmen Square protests.

Protesters shouted, “Down with the party!” in Shanghai after it was placed under a hard Covid lockdown for two months. According to widely shared videos on social media, “Down with Xi Jinping!”

On Saturday night and Sunday nights, large crowds gathered at Wulumuqi Road in memory of the victims of a deadly fire that occurred this week in Urumqi (the capital of the western Xinjiang regions). (Wulumuqi, the Chinese romanized spelling for Urumqi)

Many believed that the victims’ escape and rescue were hampered due to Coivd restrictions. This has led to many deaths in the last few months that can be attributed to zero Covid.

Shanghai protestors held a blank paper in their hands to vent their anger at the Covid restrictions. This was to avoid censorship and to avoid arrest.

Late Sunday night, police had closed off the area and were retaliating against the crowds. The image of a blank piece of paper was widely shared on Chinese social media with the message “I Love You, China.” I love you, young people.”

At the Tsinghua University, Beijing, protesters held up empty sheets of paper. Students marched at protests at major universities in Nanjing and Chengdu, Shanghai, Tianjin, and other locations.

China is sensitive to student protests. In 1989, the Tiananmen Square massacre, which saw at least 1,000 people killed, was started as a student-led march for democracy.

As of Sunday night, it was not clear what the Chinese government’s coordinated response would be to the protests.

Despite being low in comparison to global standards China is experiencing record numbers of Covid infections, with almost 40,000 new cases reported Saturday.

Various Covid restrictions were in place in many major cities of China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou during the weekend’s protests.

Experts say that the government is in a difficult spot because lifting the restrictions could cause massive deaths. The elderly have low vaccination rates and there are low levels of acquired immunity.

Francois Balloux, a professor at University College London in computational biology, wrote that a major Covid-19 increase in China would cause a tragic death toll.

He said that authorities had trapped themselves in a situation where there was no escape plan. “Whatever they decide – or will have to do – the next step will be extremely costly.

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