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China rocked by anti-lockdown protests of its harsh ‘zero COVID’ policies

China was rocked by protests Sunday as weary citizens grow increasingly irate about the totalitarian country’s strict “zero COVID” policies.

Students at Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghau University were among groups across the country taking to the streets to object to a three-year long lockdown since the virus was first discovered. 

The current frustration is fueled in part by a harrowing apartment fire in the western Chinese city of Urumqi that killed 10. Some believe lockdown measures prevented residents from escaping; local officials tried to skirt blame for the deaths .

“Some residents’ ability to rescue themselves was too weak,” the head of city’s fire department Li Wensheng said at a press conference.

In Shanghai, police pepper-sprayed about 300 protesters who had gathered for a vigil honoring victims of the deadly blaze, a witness told the Associated Press.

Other major Chinese cities — like Nanjing and Guangzhou — saw protests too, and a similar vigil for the fire victims was held in Beijing.

A man is arrested while people gathering on a street in Shanghai on Nov. 27.
AFP via Getty Images

In some videos, protesters called for the resignation of China’s strongman leader Xi Jinping and an end to the Communist Party of China’s reign. 

In Urumqi, where the fire broke out and where some residents have been in lockdown for months, dissidents shouted “Remove the Communist Party! Remove Xi Jinping!” in a video that captured the scene. The escalating outrage came after rare protests in the embattled region broke out Friday night, and protesters were met by guards in hazmat suits.

One woman in the city said she had been unable to leave her apartment since Aug. 8, and was not even allowed to open her windows. 

People in Beijing are pictured gathering Sunday for a vigil , with some holding white sheets of paper in protest of COVID restrictions, as the partiicipants commemorate victims of a deadly fire in Urumqi.
People in Beijing on gather Sunday for a vigil and hold white sheets of paper in protest of COVID restrictions, as they commemorate the victims of a fire in Urumqi.
REUTERS

Video of the protests were quickly scrubbed from the Internet. 

Protesters, including university students in Nanjing and Beijing, have begun to hold blank sheets of paper when taking the streets, knowing signs with pointed messages might be censored on the Internet.

While leaders have said they would ease some restrictions, the country has stuck by its “zero Covid” stance. Despite criticism, China has reported just 5,232 deaths from the virus, compared with the 1.09 million in the US.

People are pictured holding blank papers as a form of silent protest in Shanghai on Sunday.
People are holding blank papers as a form of silent protest in Shanghai on Sunday.
AFP via Getty Images

On Sunday, Chinese officials said due to rising case numbers, indoor venues would be limited to 50% capacity in the southern city of Shenzhen, home to more than 12.5 million people. It also asked the public to work from home.

With Post wires.

File source

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