Following a fire that claimed the lives of 10 people in an apartment complex in Urumqi, protests against COVID limitations in China appear to have picked up steam.
Foreign journalists have broadcast videos of crowds of people protesting against Covid restrictions and gathering in the streets of Shanghai to memorialize the victims on social media.
The cries of hundreds seeking President Xi Jinping’s resignation could be heard.
The lockdown of residential structures has been widely attributed as the cause of the fire.
The cause has not been acknowledged by Chinese authorities. Although late on Friday, Urumqi officials did apologize in an unorthodox way, promising to punish anyone who disobeyed orders.
Some attendees at the meeting in Shanghai were spotted placing flowers and lighting candles for the victims.
Slogans like “Xi Jinping, step down” and “Communist party, step down” could be heard being shouted by others. Others had white flags that were empty.
Such demands are uncommon in China, where criticizing the president or the administration directly can result in severe repercussions.
Some demonstrators yelled insults at the police who were stationed along the streets where the crowd had assembled.
One demonstrator said to the news agency Associated Press that two others had been pepper sprayed while one of his pals had been physically assaulted by police there. Videos from other protest events showed police keeping an eye on the demonstrators.
Although things had settled down by Sunday am, there were many more police officers, private security guards, and plain-clothed police officers on the streets in the protest area.
Online images and videos from other Chinese campuses show students protesting on Saturday night. It appeared that Nanjing Communications University hosted the largest crowd.
The protests are the most recent in a growing string of large-scale rallies against China’s zero-COvid policies that have also grown more outspoken in their criticism of the administration and President Xi.
Due in part to China’s relatively low vaccination rates and efforts to safeguard the elderly, the zero-Covid plan is the last of its sort among the major economies of the world.
Snap lockdowns have angered people all around the nation, and more general Covid restrictions have sparked recent violent protests from Zhengzhou to Guangzhou.
China’s case numbers this week reached all-time highs since the pandemic started, despite the strict measures.