Why Are Protests Erupting Across China? Here’s The Latest On The Government’s Zero-Covid Policy And The Fire That Sparked Nationwide Dissent

At this point, there are very few, if any, mask and vaccine mandates in the US. People have moved on with their lives and realized that coronavirus is not nearly as dangerous of a virus as the press and government made it out to be in 2020. While we are fortunate to have moved on from the pandemic, the same cannot be said for Chinese citizens. There are thousands of people in China who are taking to the streets and refusing to accept the policies imposed on them by authorities.

Apartment fire kills 10 in Xinjiang and sparks protests

Chinese authorities are still doing their best to enforce a zero-Covid policy across the country. In the western region of Xinjiang, an apartment block fire broke out a few days ago, killing at least 10 people. The area was under a strict Covid lockdown for more than 100 days, trapping thousands of residents in their homes and being detained by authorities if they dared to leave the region. The lockdown reportedly led to firefighters being delayed in arriving at the fire, causing even more unnecessary deaths. The fire also injured 9 people.

There is touching footage in which you can hear the screams of people burning in the apartment building. “Open the doors! Open the doors! Save us!” they shouted. There were several children inside.

This fire, and the government’s abject failure to respond in time, has sparked a reaction from thousands of people across China, furious that they are still locked down after more than two years of a pandemic, with no end in sight . Videos from Urumqi, a city in Xinjiang, showed residents gathering in the street chanting phrases such as “want freedom” and “give me freedom or give me death!”

The day after the initial protests, local government officials announced that they would begin easing the lockdown requirement in phases, but they did not offer a clear plan or even address the protests that have taken place across Xinjiang. This is when the thousands of Chinese people across the country took to the streets to show their support for the citizens of Xinjiang.

Protests broke out all over the country of China

According to CNN, there have been at least 20 verified protests spanning 15 cities in China, including the capital Beijing. Many gathered for candlelight vigils, mass protests and even defiance of Chinese authorities. Some chanted phrases about freedom and human rights and others held up blank sheets of white paper, a symbol of protesting censorship. Some people shouted for Chinese President Xi Jinping to step down and even sang a socialist song that was sung during pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Dozens protested in Hong Kong’s central district yesterday.

It is very rare to see protests in the Communist country of China, where citizens’ every move is tracked using high-tech surveillance and dissent is swiftly quashed. Apparently, surveillance in Xinjiang is particularly strict; this is the region where the government has detained millions of Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group that has been specifically targeted and abused.

Several videos of the protests and riots have circulated social media, showing how desperate the people of China have become and how willing they are to defy authority. You can see the protesters physically push back and attack the officials, who are all dressed in all-white outfits that look like hazmat suits.

A Chinese journalist has shared footage of a subway in Shanghai, where police are checking people’s phones as a way to crack down on the nationwide uprising. They also apparently set up checkpoints where the police search through belongings to see if they are participating in the protests.

Chinese protests have been heavily censored on social media

You would think that this kind of uprising would be international news covered by all outlets and social media platforms, but the footage of protests and riots has been heavily censored across the internet. Twitter account @ChinaUncensored shared a video saying that YouTube “once again censored our coverage.”

Many claim that Twitter is the only platform that does not actively censor footage of the protests. Platforms like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube are reportedly removing videos revealing the unrest in China, without any explanation.

In 2019, Apple reportedly pulled an app from the App Store that allowed Hong Kong protesters to track police. The company also restricted the use of the AirDrop feature in China that allowed the protesters to communicate with each other.

Many influencers are sharing photos and videos as much as possible to raise awareness about the human rights violations taking place in China, and they are asking all social media users to do the same.

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