Protests against China’s strict anti-Covid-19 measures spread to Shanghai and some other cities on Saturday night, Reuters reported.
Around 300 demonstrators gathered at the city’s Middle Urumqi Road in tribute to the 10 persons who were killed in a fire at a high-rise building in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, on Thursday.
The protestors claimed that the victims could not escape as the building was partially locked down, reported The Associated Press. However, city officials had denied the claim and instead blamed the residents, saying their ability to rescue themselves was “too weak”.
Since the deaths, protests against the government’s incessant use of lockdowns have taken place at various cities across China, including in Xinjiang.
Videos shared on social media about the Shanghai protests showed the crowd shouting slogans such as “lift lockdown for Urumqi”, “lift lockdown for Xinjiang”, “lift lockdown for all of China”, “down with the Chinese Communist Party”, “down with Xi Jinping” and “free Urumqi!”
Some of the demonstrators held up blank sheets of paper as a symbol of protest against censorship.
In several videos, protestors could be heard shouting slogans calling for Xi and the Communist Party of China to step down from power, according to CNN. Some of them also chanted: “Don’t want Covid test, want freedom!” and “Don’t want dictatorship, want democracy!”
Protests broke out in several universities, including the Peking University in Beijing. A slogan at the Peking University read: “Open your eyes and look at the world, dynamic zero-Covid is a lie.”
An unidentified student told CNN that security guards subsequently covered the slogan with black paint.
China’s ruling Communist Party follows a “zero-Covid” strategy that aims to isolate every case and eliminate the virus entirely to prevent overwhelming healthcare systems.
Several cities across China have imposed lockdowns and other restrictions to curb the spread of the infection. Shanghai was put under lockdown in April and May.
On Saturday, China registered a record 39,791 Covid-19 cases, Reuters reported, citing the country’s National Health Commission. Out of these, 3,709 cases were symptomatic infections, whereas 36,082 were asymptomatic.
One person died due to the disease, taking the total number of fatalities to 5,233.
The country had reported its first Covid-related death in six months on November 20.
Earlier on Saturday, small-scale protests were also reported by some residents of Beijing, who are under lockdown, reported Reuters.
A video shared with the news agency showed residents in an unidentifiable part of the capital marching on Saturday and shouting “End the lockdown!”.
A vigil was also reported at the city’s Peking University, according to The New York Times.
On Friday, videos circulated on Chinese social media also showed a protest march in Urumqi.
The city’s 4 million residents have been under some of the country’s longest lockdowns. They have been barred from leaving their homes for as long as 100 days.