COVID-19 Strict Control Protest in China Extends to Several Cities. PHOTO/Reuters
As AP reported, Shanghai police used pepper spray against around 300 protesters, according to an eyewitness. They gathered on Saturday (26/11/2022) evening to mourn the deaths of at least 10 people in an apartment fire last week in Urumqi, the northwestern region of Xinjiang.
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Videos posted on social media saying they were filmed in Nanjing in the east, Guangzhou in the south and at least five other cities show protesters grappling with police in white protective suits or dismantling barricades used to seal off neighborhoods.
Witnesses said protests took place in Urumqi, but The Associated Press could not confirm other video details. President Xi Jinping’s government is facing growing anger over its “zero-COVID” policy which has shut off access to areas across China.
That makes China’s infection rate lower than that of the United States and other countries. But the ruling Communist Party is facing growing complaints about the economic and human costs, as businesses close and families are isolated for weeks with limited access to food and medicine.
Some of the protesters are shown in the video shouting for Xi to step down or the ruling party to give up power.
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In Shanghai, protesters gathered on Urumqi Central Street at midnight with flowers, candles and signs reading “Urumqi, November 24, those who died rest in peace,” according to one participant who would only give his surname, Zhao.
Zhao said one of his friends was beaten by police and two were pepper sprayed. He also said police stepped on his feet when he tried to stop them from taking his friend away. He lost his shoes and left barefoot.
According to Zhao, protesters shouted slogans including “Xi Jinping, quit, Communist Party, quit,” “Open Xinjiang, unlock China,” “don’t want PCR (test), want freedom” and “freedom of the press.”
“About 100 police lined up to prevent protesters from gathering or leaving. The bus carrying more police arrived later,” said Zhao.