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Protests Against COVID-19 Restrictions in China Slow Down

by Roveen Anyango
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Protests in major cities across China have begun to slow down as the authorities sent out troops of security apparatus to quell the street unrest. China introduced a new zero-COVID-19 policy in its ongoing fight against the spread of COVID-19 in late November, sparking widespread protests across the country.

Across major cities in the country, citizens in hazmat suits protested the reintroduction of the zero-COVID-19 policy amidst rising COVID-19 cases in China. The protests erupted across major cities in China, including Beijing and Shanghai in what has been called one of the biggest political challenges for the Chinese governments since the 2019 Hong Kong protests.

On Friday, November 25, the day the protests began to bubble over, a fire in a high-rise building apartment in the city of Urumqi, Xinjiang region, left 10 people dead, with the protestors blaming the deaths on the strict zero-COVID-19 policy as barriers stopped fire fighter from accessing the burning building.

Social Media

China’s two biggest social media sites, Weibo and WeChat, all flooded with people calling for the government to drop the COVID-19 policy and also calling for justice for those who died in the fire. Social media censors scrambled to delete these posts but discussions on the matter continued to circulate.

However, by Tuesday, November 29, many of the protests had died down as police were sent out into the streets, discouraging protestors from gathering.

China was one of the countries worst-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and has, since then, has had a very strict zero-COVID-19 policy. While many of the public have been discontent with the measures, there have not been protests of such a large scale before.

In fact, the current demonstrations are considered the largest and most widespread since the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests of 1989. The current protests have also seen the public call out Xi Jinping, asking for him to step down after decades as the country’s leader.

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