By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 29: The unprecedented weekend of protests across China has caught the attention of mainstream media coverage as China watchers are closely linking the protests with Xi Jinping’s disapproval rates in the country. The wave of protests first started in Shanghai, after an apartment fire in the city of Urumqi killed 10 people. Many have speculated that Covid curbs had hindered the escape of the residents.
Several Chinese cities and dozens of university campuses have demonstrated against the stringent measures during the three years of pandemic. “What we object to is these restrictions on people’s rights in the name of virus prevention, and the restrictions on individual freedom and people’s livelihoods,” said a college student named Sun in Shanghai. Since the unprecedented third term as the Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Xi has faced mass dissent across the country.
The Chinese government spokesperson Zhao Lijian in response to the agitation said, “What you mentioned does not reflect what actually happened. We believe that with the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and cooperation and support of the Chinese people, our fight against COVID-19 will be successful.”
The backlash against the restrictions has not deterred the leadership from their faith in Zero-Covid policy to eradicate the coronavirus, which first originated in Wuhan. In Beijing, large crowds of people gathered Sunday midnight on a ring road in the city to hold blank pieces of paper as a symbol of protest and solidarity. During the central Shanghai protest, many were seen raising anti-Xi slogans.
In another viral footage, the Chinese police are seen assaulting one of BBC’s journalists, covering the protest in Shanghai and reportedly detained him for several hours. “It is worrying that one of our journalists was attacked in this way whilst carrying out his duties. We have had no official explanation or apology from the Chinese authorities, beyond a claim by the officials who later released him that they had arrested him for his own good in case he caught Covid from the crowd. We do not consider this a credible explanation,” the British broadcaster’s statement read. A Reuters’ journalist was also reportedly detained for about 90 minutes on Sunday night, before being released.