The anger of the Chinese rumbles and their symbols grow. Blank sheets of paper, invisible signs, the national anthem and subtle puns… There are so many ways protesters use to avoid censorship and express their opposition to zero-Covid policies.
In several cities, including Beijing, demonstrators waved white sheets of A4 paper in solidarity, citing China’s lack of freedom of speech. Others have posted white boxes on their WeChat profile.
Students from the prestigious Tsinghua University photographed themselves demonstrating the “Freedman equations,” named after the physicist, who evokes “freed man” or “freedom” in English.
After certain keywords and locations have been blocked from search engines, absurd posts with a “positive” tone are multiplying on the WeChat messenger and social network. As of Monday morning, many of these posts and those with links to “A4 paper” have disappeared, but copies have continued to circulate.
Netizens have also used subtle puns to refer to social media protests with terms like “banana peel” which has the same Chinese initials as the president’s name, or “shrimp mousse” a la sounds close to ” resignation”.
Irony in conveying the message
Some groups of protesters very clearly called for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to step down and chanted slogans such as “No to Covid tests, but to freedom,” referring to a banner unfurled by protesters in Beijing shortly before the Communist Party Congress. in October.
Others, more cautious, honored the ten dead in the Urumqi fire with flowers and candles, blaming health restrictions in Xinjiang, sparking outrage.
In Beijing, crowds along the Liangma River chanted “I want to get tested for Covid, I want to scan my QR code” on Sunday evening, relying on irony to get their message across. Videotapes of Xi Jinping, as well as quotes from the president, were hijacked to give the appearance of support for the protests. “Now the Chinese people are organizing and cannot be neglected,” he said in one of the videos.
The national anthem and the Internationale were played at rallies across the country to preempt any government condemnation of a movement that was unpatriotic or foreign-run.
A viral video, quickly censored, shows students in a university dormitory singing Beyond’s Cantonese pop song “Boundless Oceans, Boundless Skies”, which has been used as a freedom anthem by many pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. before the pandemic.
Netizens have also shared memes from the World Cup in Qatar, using pictures of players without masks to poke fun at China’s health policy. In the censored viral video, World Cup fans cheer, but the altered soundtrack plays commands such as “Put on your masks!” or “Take the test!” “.
Overseas, Chinese students organized similar movements, especially in North America and Europe.
In a video posted to Instagram, demonstrators sing and erect a “Rue Urumqi” sign in front of the Chinese consulate in Toronto, named after an artery in Shanghai where demonstrators gathered after the Urumqi fire.