Protests erupted in China's Shanghai on Saturday night against Beijing's strict COVID-19 policy. Several videos have emerged on social media which showcased people chanting slogans against restrictions imposed by the Chinese government to curb the spread of Covid.
The protests erupted after 10 people died and nine others were injured in an apartment fire in Urumqi. Saturday saw protests erupt in Shanghai with people calling to relax COVID-19 curbs across the country. Expressing anger over the stringent Covid policy, Chinese citizens took to the streets in large numbers.
According to a video posted by DW News East Asia Correspondent William Yang on Twitter, people at 'Urumqi Road' held a protest against Xi Jinping-led Chinese Communist Party (CCP), chanting slogans like "Step down the Communist Party" and " the Communist Party, Step down. Xi Jinping, step down."
In a series of tweets regarding the protests in Shanghai, William Yang said that countless people gathered on Urumqi Road and chanted slogans, "I don't want PCR test, I want freedom." In another tweet, William Yang said, people in 'Urumqi Road' also called for ending the lockdown in Xinjiang.
"Citizens chanting #Xinjiang, end lockdown, #Xinjiang, end lockdown," Yang wrote on Twitter. Continuing the thread, he said that a scuffle broke out between people and police at the site of a protest in Shanghai. In a tweet, William Yang said, "Police surrounded the last few dozens of protesters at the scene in Shanghai and some women were reportedly taken away."
"Incredible footage from #China's #Shanghai, where countless people gathered at a road called "#Urumqi road," chanting the slogan "Step down, the Communist Party" very loudly,"
William Yang wrote on Twitter. Notably, the Chinese government has been adhering to strict COVID-19 policy in order to curb the spread of the virus ever since the pandemic emerged in China. The restrictions imposed by the Chinese government include strict lockdowns, travel restrictions and mass testing. Meanwhile, Joyce Karam, senior US correspondent at The National, also posted a video on her Twitter handle in which people were seen protesting against COVID-19 restrictions in Wulumuqi Road. "Rare protests erupt in #China's largest city over Covid restrictions & gov. rules.
"We want freedom" the crowd chants in this video from Wulumuqi road tonight," Karam tweeted. While sharing the protest video on Twitter, Axial Vibe Studio Co-founder Vivian Wu wrote, "Scale of the protest tonight in Shanghai. Notice police didn't do anything but stand calmly watching ppl protest and shout. It's not benevolence. My guess: they need to ask for directives from the top authorities. Police might be stunned as nobody dares to do so for decades."
Earlier on Friday, a fire in a residential high-rise in Urumqi, where many residents have been placed under lockdown, set off public anger and questions about China's zero-Covid policy. Chang Che, a freelance writer covering Chinese technology and society and Amy Chang Chien covering news in mainland China and Taiwan, writing in The New York Post (NYT) said that the protest erupted after the fire killed 10 persons in the region, with residents calling for the lifting of lockdowns.
Chinese commenters on social media shared reports and footage of the blaze that killed 10 people and injured nine in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital, demanding to know if Covid restrictions had hampered the rescue or prevented residents from escaping their apartments or the building.
Late Friday, videos circulated widely on the Chinese internet showing throngs of residents in Urumqi marching to a government building and chanting "end lockdowns."