Protests in China: "Down with Xi Jinping!": Protests in China

In China, the strict corona policy at the weekend led to the largest protests in decades.

Protests in China: "Down with Xi Jinping!": Protests in China

In China, the strict corona policy at the weekend led to the largest protests in decades. Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in the capital Beijing and other megacities.

In Shanghai, too, it was mainly young people who went on a protest march on Sunday night. Videos from there, which circulated on the Internet despite state censorship, contained shouts of "Down with the Communist Party! Down with Xi Jinping!" listen. Under the current head of state and party leader, the People's Republic is pursuing a strict zero-Covid strategy.

Such open protests are extremely unusual in the authoritarian giant country with more than 1.4 billion inhabitants. For the people who openly express their opinions, they are extremely risky. The trigger of public displeasure in several metropolises was the fire in an apartment in the city of Ürümqi in the north-west of the country on Thursday evening with at least ten deaths. Many are of the opinion that the rescue work was hampered by the strict corona measures.

China is sticking to the Corona strategy

Despite the tough action taken by the authorities, the number of corona infections continues to rise: on Sunday, the national health commission registered a record number of more than 39,000 new cases for the fourth day in a row. Every single infection leads to entire housing estates being cordoned off and all those infected being taken to quarantine hospitals. While the rest of the world lives with the virus, China is sticking to its strategy. Even after almost three years of the pandemic, the borders are largely closed.

Several hundred students also gathered on the campus of Tsinghua University in Beijing - Xi Jinping's alma mater - on Sunday. Videos showed them holding blank sheets of paper in the air in protest at the state's repression of critical voices. A young woman said, "If we don't speak up out of fear, we will disappoint our people. As a Tsinghua student, I would regret it for the rest of my life." The crowd responded euphorically that they shouldn't be afraid.

Elsewhere in Beijing, residents in several neighborhoods broke through fences in their condominiums and called for an end to the lockdowns. In Shanghai, protests with several hundred participants took place again on Sunday, despite a large number of police and extensive barriers. Videos showed demonstrators being taken away. With the exception of a few supermarkets, practically all shops in the metropolis are closed. The streets are deserted except for long queues in front of PCR test stations.

Nationwide protests

Protests also erupted in cities like Wuhan, Chongqing and Ürümqi. At least ten people were killed and nine others injured in the house fire in Urumqi, Xinjiang province. A number of residents criticized on social networks that the rigid corona measures had made the fight against the fire more difficult. Residents had been made more difficult to escape to the outside by locked apartment doors.

In view of the increasing corona numbers, observers believe that China is in a dead end. The Health Commission justifies itself by saying that opening would result in many deaths. Doctors also warn that the health system would be hopelessly overwhelmed should the virus spread freely. But the anger is growing among the population. The new Omicron variants, which spread more easily, are blamed for the rapid increase.

The government has also come under criticism as it is clear that since the end of 2019 the authorities have used most of their capacity for constant mass testing and lockdowns. Preparations for a way out of the pandemic have not been made sufficiently. The vaccination rate for the population is around 90 percent, but there are significant vaccination gaps among the elderly: only 40 percent of people over 80 have received two vaccinations and a booster so far.

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