Protests erupt across China as thousands take to the streets over draconian Covid restrictions
- Public fury forced authorities in Xinjiang to open up parts of the capital Urumqi
- Urumqi has been subject to a punishing ‘zero-Covid’ lockdown for over 3 months
- The protest triggered by deaths of ten people in a fire at an apartment block
Public fury forced authorities in the far western Xinjiang region to open up parts of the capital Urumqi, which has been subject to a punishing ‘zero-Covid’ lockdown for more than three months.
The protest was triggered by the deaths of ten people in a fire at a high-rise apartment block. Some have claimed lockdown measures hampered rescue efforts and the ability of residents to escape.
Footage posted online showed hundreds of demonstrators confronting riot police on the streets of Urumqi, where many of the four million residents have been barred from leaving their homes for as long as 100 days.
Angry protests erupted across China yesterday as citizens took to the streets in a rare display of defiance over Beijing’s draconian coronavirus restrictions
Public fury forced authorities in the far western Xinjiang region to open up parts of the capital Urumqi, which has been subject to a punishing ‘zero-Covid’ lockdown for more than three months
One video shows a man shouting at uniformed officials, ‘Whose children are you, and whose father are you? Don’t you have a conscience? How many people died today?’
Other videos showed demonstrators in a plaza singing China’s national anthem, seen as an attempt to protect themselves from accusations of being against the government. One of the lines is: ‘Rise up, those who refuse to be slaves.’
In some scenes, people shouted and pushed against rows of men in the white whole-body hazmat suits.
In Beijing, 1,700 miles away, residents also staged protests, confronting officials over restrictions on their movement. Some successfully pressured authorities into lifting the lockdown measures ahead of schedule.
Earlier in the week, residents in the southern city of Guangzhou clashed with police, complaining about being confined for weeks, as well as food shortages. Officials there responded by erecting concrete walls and barbed wire to prevent anyone leaving the Haizhu district, the epicentre of the protests.
And in Zhengzhou, the city government tried to ease public anger by apologising for the death of a four-month-old baby.
Footage posted online showed hundreds of demonstrators confronting riot police on the streets of Urumqi, where many of the four million residents have been barred from leaving their homes for as long as 100 days
The girl died after a delay in receiving medical attention while suffering vomiting and diarrhoea in quarantine at a hotel.
During the lockdown in Xinjiang –home to ten million Uighurs, the minority facing persecution – some residents had their doors chained shut to prevent them breaching restrictions.
The brute-force tactics led many in Urumqi to believe the victims of Friday’s fire were prevented from escaping and that the official death toll was not the full picture.
The unprecedented protests, and anger online, are the latest signs of frustration at China’s approach to tackling Covid.
It is the only major country still fighting the pandemic with mass testing and lockdowns.
It marks a sharp turn in public opinion. Early in the pandemic, China’s approach to controlling the spread of Covid was praised by its own citizens – even as Beijing tried to dismiss widely held suspicions that the pandemic started after a leak at a Wuhan laboratory.
On Friday, China recorded 34,909 daily cases, a new record.