Protests in China against President Xi Jinping's signature zero-Covid policy resurfaced in Shanghai on Sunday afternoon. This comes even after cops cleared away hundreds of demonstrators in the early morning with force and pepper spray. Demonstrators, who were in huge numbers, shouted: "We don't want PCR tests, we want freedom!"
Demonstrators also gathered at one of Beijing's most prestigious universities after a deadly fire in the country's far west sparked widespread anger.
China, which has stuck with Xi's zero-Covid policy even while much of the world try to coexist with the coronavirus, is seeing cases hit record highs for days, with nearly 40,000 new infections on Saturday.
According to the reports, this wave of civil disobedience in the world's most populous country has reached unprecedented levels since Xi Jinping assumed power a decade ago.
According to reports, a crowdsourced list on social media also showed that there were demonstrations in 50 universities. People have held protests across the country since Friday.
In China, where street demonstrations are extremely rare, anger and frustration have flared over the deaths from a fire in an apartment building in Urumqi that the public believes was caused by excessive lockdown measures that delayed rescue. At least 10 people were killed and nine injured when the fire broke out, according to the local fire department.
In Urumqi, a city with a population of 4 million, some people have been locked down for as long as 100 days. Following this, in the country’s most populous city Shanghai, residents gathered on Saturday night at Wulumuqi Road, which is named after Urumqi, for a candlelight vigil. However, that turned into a protest soon.
The crowd held up blank sheets of paper representing a protest symbol against censorship. "Lift lockdown for Urumqi, lift lockdown for Xinjiang, lift lockdown for all of China," they shouted according to a video circulated on social media.
Demonstrators were also seen shouting, “Down with the Chinese Communist Party, down with Xi Jinping", according to witnesses and videos.
Videos have gone viral on social media showing protestors shouting 'Communist party step down!, 'Xi Jinping step down' and 'End lockdown in Xinjiang'. Cops were also seen detaining several people at the protest site and bundling them into police vehicles.
Frustration is boiling just over a month after Xi secured a third term at the helm of China's Communist Party. China defends its strict zero-COVID policy as life-saving and necessary to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system.
Meanwhile, Urumqi, where the fire occurred, as well as the city of Korla were preparing to reopen markets and other businesses in areas deemed at low risk of virus transmission and to restart bus, train, and airline service, state media reported.
(With input from agencies)
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