In China, rare mass demonstrations against the strict pandemic measures have broken out in multiple cities, including Beijing and Shanghai. Protesters held up blank sheets of paper, chanted slogans, confronted police, and even called for President Xi Jinping to step down. The widespread demonstrations are unprecedented since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crisis.
A deadly fire in Urumqi, the capital of far western region Xinjiang, seems to have been the trigger. A video suggests lockdown measures delayed firefighters from reaching the victims.
Late on November 26th, hundreds of Shanghai residents gathered for a candlelight vigil on Urumqi Road to mourn the victims of the Xinjiang fire. They held up blank sheets of white paper – in what is traditionally a symbolic protest against censorship – and chanted, “Need human rights, need freedom.”
Three years into the pandemic, many people have been pushed to the brink by the government’s incessant use of lockdowns, Covid tests, quarantines and ever-tightening censorship. Some complained the restrictions as neither scientific nor effective.