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Tension in China: protests grow in Shanghai and Beijing against the restrictions for “zero COVID”

Hundreds of people demonstrated on Sunday in Shanghai, at Beijing universities and other cities in Chinawhere indignation grows against the draconian “zero covid” policy imposed by the authorities for almost three years.

In Shanghaia city of more than 25 million people and which endured a two-month lockdown this year that caused food shortages, hundreds of people marched in silence through the center of the megalopolis.

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As a witness explained to AFP, the demonstrators held up blank sheets — a gesture that has become a symbol of protest against censorship in China— and white flowers.

The police arrived later and dispersed them.said the witness, who requested anonymity.

Police arrest a man as they block Wulumuqi street, named after Urumqi in Mandarin, in Shanghai on November 27, 2022. (Héctor RETAMAL / AFP).

Hours earlier, a crowd gathered near the wulumuqi street –the name in mandarin of the city of urumqi— with people shouting “Xi Jinping, resign, resign!” in a rare show of rejection of the Chinese president, according to a video released by social networks and geolocated by AFP.

In urumqiin the region of xinjiang (West), ten people died Thursday in a fire. The incident generated outrage on social networks, considering that the confinements complicated the rescue of the victims.

“brave people”

A Shanghai protester who asked not to be named told AFP he arrived at a demonstration at 2:00 a.m. (6:00 p.m. GMT on Friday) when “a group of people were paying tribute and laying flowers on the sidewalk, while another group was chanting slogans.” .

There were minor clashes, but, in general, the police behaved in a “civilized” way, he said.

“It’s moving to see how so many like-minded people come together,” added. “It’s impressive that under the current circumstances, there are still brave people standing up.”

Authorities quickly deleted online messages about the protests as soon as the videos began to be released.

Students protesting against China's zero covid policy at Tsinghua University in Beijing.  (AFPTV / AFP).

Students protesting against China’s zero covid policy at Tsinghua University in Beijing. (AFPTV / AFP). (-/)

In Beijinghundreds of students from the prestigious Tsinghua University They demonstrated on campus on Sunday, according to an eyewitness contacted by AFP and videos posted online.

The witness recounted that around 11:30 a.m. (0330 GMT), a student brandished a blank sheet of paper and other women joined her.

“We sang the anthem and the International and shouted ‘freedom will triumph’, ‘no to the tests’, ‘we want food’, ‘no to confinement, we want freedom’”, added the witness.

Videos posted online showed a crowd outside the university dining hall, gathered around a speaker.

“This is not a normal life”

“This is not a normal life, we are fed up. Our lives were not like this before,” the speaker cried.

A vigil also took place at Beijing University, close to Tsinghua University. in memory of the victims of the Urumqi fire. According to a student who participated, the protests started on Saturday night and between 100 and 200 people gathered.

“I heard people shout: ‘no to covid tests, yes to freedom’”, explained to AFP with images and videos that corroborated the facts.

According to other recordings, there were demonstrations in Nanking (east), as well as in xian, wuhan (center) and Canton (south), but AFP could not authenticate the images.

The protests take place in the midst of the population’s weariness due to the government’s zero-tolerance strategy with the covid.

China is the last major economy that maintains the “zero covid” strategy, with confinements, extensive quarantines and massive tests to eradicate sources of infection as soon as they appear.

On Sunday, China registered 39,506 local infections of covid-19, a figure record for this country of 1.4 billion inhabitants.

After the deadly fire urumqiHundreds of people gathered in front of the local government chanting “Lift the lockdown!”, according to images partially verified by AFP.

AFP was able to verify the videos by geolocating local landmarks, but was unable to determine when the demonstrations took place.

Following the protests, authorities said Saturday that urumqi “had reduced social transmissions to zero” and that they would restore “normal life” in low-risk areas in an orderly fashion.

Source: Elcomercio

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