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Chinese Crowds Call for Change
News Bytes 11/28/2022 4 Comments

Protesters angered by strict anti-virus measures called for China’s powerful leader Xi Jinping to resign. In a nation where dissent is quickly quashed, the protests were an unprecedented rebuke against leadership decisions. Authorities in at least eight cities struggled to suppress demonstrations Sunday. The public dissatisfaction represents a rare direct challenge to the ruling Communist Party.

Police using pepper spray drove away demonstrators in Shanghai. The masses called for an end to one-party rule. They demanded that Xi, who only recently secured his third term as president, step down. The group dispersed, but just hours later, people rallied again in the same spot. Police again broke up the demonstration, and a reporter saw protesters under arrest taken away in a bus.

The protests began Friday. They spread to cities including Beijing and to dozens of university campuses. It’s the most widespread show of opposition to the ruling party in decades.

Three years after the novel coronavirus emerged, China is the only major country still trying to stop its transmission. Its “zero COVID” strategy suspends access to neighborhoods for weeks at a time. Some cities still carry out daily virus tests on millions of residents.

That may have kept China’s infection numbers lower than those of the United States and other major countries, but public acceptance has worn thin. People quarantined at home in some areas say they lack food and medicine. The ruling party faced public anger following the deaths of two children whose parents said anti-virus controls hampered efforts to get medical help.

The current protests erupted after a fire broke out Thursday, tragically killing at least 10 people in an apartment building in the city of Urumqi in the northwest. Some there have been locked in their homes for four months. The fire prompted an outpouring of angry questions online about whether firefighters or people trying to escape were blocked by locked doors or other restrictions.

About 300 demonstrators gathered late Saturday in Shanghai. Most of that city’s 25 million people were confined to their homes for almost two months starting in late March. Some called for an official apology for the deaths in Urumqi.

The scene turned violent early Sunday. Hundreds of police broke up groups. They tried to move people off the main street. Some witnesses stood and filmed as police shoved people.

Officers in surgical masks and yellow safety vests told the crowd of about 300 spectators to leave but appeared to be trying to avoid a confrontation. There was no sign of shields or other riot gear.

In Beijing, a group of about 200 people gathered in a park. They held up blank sheets of paper, a symbol of defiance against the ruling party’s censorship.

“The lockdown policy is so strict,” said a protester, who would give only his surname, Li. “You cannot compare it to any other country. We have to find a way out.”

Postings on social media said there were demonstrations at 50 universities.

About 2,000 students at Xi’s alma mater, Tsinghua University in Beijing, gathered to demand an easing of anti-virus controls, according to social media posts. Students shouted, “Freedom of speech!” and sang “The Internationale,” the socialist anthem.

The protesters left after the university’s deputy Communist Party secretary promised to hold a school-wide discussion.

The human rights group Amnesty International appealed to Beijing to allow peaceful protest.

“The tragedy of the Urumqi fire has inspired remarkable bravery across China,” the group’s regional director, Hanna Young, said in a statement. “These unprecedented protests show that people are at the end of their tolerance for excessive COVID-19 restrictions.”

Urumqi and Korla, a smaller city in Xinjiang, eased some anti-virus controls. The move appeared to be an attempt to soothe the public following Friday’s protests. Markets and other businesses will reopen in areas deemed at low risk of virus transmission. Bus, train, and airline service will also resume, state media reports.

(Chinese protesters hold up blank paper and chant slogans calling for government change as they march in Beijing on Sunday, November 27, 2022. The protesters were angered by ongoing strict anti-virus measures. AP/Ng Han Guan)

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Most recent comments

It must be terrifying to live

It must be terrifying to live in China or other Communist countries. You would be constantly be in fear for your life, always having to watch what you say and obey everything the CCP says. And if you do anything to upset the tyrannical government, you will be punished severely. And the human rights violations are horrendous. Communism really is the scum of the earth.

2nd comment

I hope they can do something to help turn around the government, although it seems unlikely. I like their stubborn spirits in this.

@Riley

The only way they’ll be able to change the government is if they are hundreds of thousands or even millions of people rising up or having the military turn on the CCP

China - this is Caileigh

China is so hard. The government has sooo much control that most people in China wont here about any of this because they literally control what content their country sees and change or delete things that they dont like. So most people are daily being fed lies from the government and i think covid gave them an excuse to basically flex their power over their people and people dont know a difference and dont know any better so they just go along with this. But CCP is so powerful that you would need almost all of China to realize that there can be a better life than this and that they can have more freedoms and the rest of the world is not just like them. Always pray that people realize things can be better and always pray for more Christians and that the gospel can be spread throughout China because i know that it is looked down upon to be a Christian there and especially because lockdowns mean people cant gather to worship God and learn more about him.

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