China Protests: Youth Cry for Freedom Amidst Zero-Covid Protests

China Protests: Youth Cry for Freedom Amidst Zero-Covid Protests

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For the first time in decades, there are thousands He opposed the Chinese authorities not only in higher education institutions and on the streets of big cities, but also protesting demanding liberation continuous Covid tests and lockdownsbut strict censorship and strict Communist Party control over all aspects of life.

The word “I want freedom” has become a cry throughout the country protest site mostly led by the younger generation, some too young to engage in open anti-government protests.

“Give me liberty or death!” According to videos circulating online, hundreds of people in several cities screamed, as a precautionary measure to mark the deaths of at least 10 people Fire in Xinjiang followed by political rallies.

Videos circulating online have angered residents across the country, who have endured three years of varying Covid surveillance, with China’s zero-covid policy initially preventing emergency workers from entering the scene.

Some protesters chanted for freedom of speech, democracy, the rule of law, human rights and other political demands in cities from the eastern financial center of Shanghai to the capital Beijing, the southern metropolis of Guangzhou and the western city of Chengdu.

CNN investigated protests in 16 locations, with reports of others in dozens of other cities and universities across the country.

Protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong in solidarity with the mainland

Protests in several parts of China over the weekend appeared to be largely peaceful, with some a a stronger response from the authorities – Security measures have been strengthened in all cities of the country, while the authorities have expanded surveillance and security capabilities.

A heavy police presence was seen in Beijing late on Monday, a day after protests began. Police cars with their lights flashing were parked in quiet streets in all parts of the capital, including the Liangmakiao neighborhood in the city’s central Chaoyang district, where a large crowd of protesters gathered on Sunday night.

Asked whether the “wide spread of anger and resentment” seen across the country on Monday would prompt China to abandon its zero-covid approach, a Foreign Office spokesman dismissed suggestions of dissent.

“What you said doesn’t reflect what actually happened,” said Zhao Lijian, who said authorities had “made adjustments” to their Covid policy based on “the reality on the ground”.

“We believe that under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people, our fight against Covid-19 will be successful,” he said.

Demonstrators hold up blank pages during a protest in Beijing on November 28.

In a symbolic protest against ever-increasing censorship, young demonstrators across China held up white sheets of paper, a metaphor for the countless critical posts, news articles and public social media accounts that have been deleted from the internet.

“I think that in a just society, no one should be held criminally responsible for his speech. Our society shouldn’t have just one voice – we need different voices,” a protester in Beijing told CNN as she carried a thin white A4 sheet of paper along the city’s Third Ring Road on Monday morning.

“I hope that in the future I will no longer hold a white paper for what I really want to say,” said the protester, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns about the repercussions of speaking out.

On Monday, the United Nations called on Chinese authorities to guarantee people’s “right to peaceful demonstrations,” the secretary-general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric told a daily briefing.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverley said China’s ruling Communist Party “must watch” the protests.

“Protests against the Chinese government are rare. So when they happen, I think we should pay attention, but more importantly, I think the Chinese government should pay attention to its people,” Cleverley told reporters.

Over the weekend, Chinese censors moved quickly to remove videos and photos of the protest from the Internet, even as the shocking images made headlines around the world.

In online commentary, Chinese state media made no mention of the protests, instead pointing to the strengths of Beijing’s anti-Covid policies, noting that they were “scientific and effective.”

But for many of the protesters, the demonstrations are about much more than Covid — they bring together many liberal-minded young people whose speech would otherwise be stifled by strict online censorship.

According to a 20-year-old Shanghai resident who participated in the candlelight vigil on Sunday morning, he was greeted by other youths holding white papers and flowers and shouting “they want freedom” as they walked towards the makeshift memorial.

“My friends and I went through the Shanghai lockdown and the iron fist (of the state) hit us all,” they told CNN, “That night I felt I could do something. I couldn’t sit still, I had to go.”

They wept silently in the crowd as the cries for freedom grew louder.

“That’s when I felt I wasn’t alone,” they said. “I realized I’m not the only one who thinks this way.”

Shanghai residents held a candlelight vigil on November 26 to mourn the victims of the Xinjiang fire.

In some cases, the protests took on an even more uncompromising tone, openly calling for political change.

On the first night of the demonstrations in Shanghai, the crowd chanted “Get down, Xi Jinping!” Go away, Communist Party!’ in an unprecedented, direct appeal to the supreme leader. On Sunday night, some protesters again called for Xi to step down.

In Chengdu, the protesters did not mention Xi by name, but their message was hard to miss. “Resistance to the dictatorship!” Hundreds of people packed the busy riverbanks in the popular food and shopping district on Sunday evening, according to videos and an attendee.

“We don’t want lifelong rulers. We don’t want emperors!’ they screamed thinly at the Chinese leader, who began a norm-breaking third term in power last month.

According to the participant, the crowd also protested the revision of the party constitution and state constitution, which would have allowed Xi to further consolidate power and avoid presidential terms.

As in Shanghai, the gathering began on Thursday with a small candlelight vigil for those who died in the fire in Urumqi.

Protesters in Chengdu held a candlelight vigil for victims of the Xinjiang fires on November 27.

But as more people gathered, the vigil became an arena for political protests.

“Everyone naturally began chanting these slogans,” said the participant. “We rarely have such a large-scale gathering and parade. Lamentations were not enough, we had to shout some of the words we wanted to say.’

For him, the practice of suffocating censorship inevitably strengthens the desire for “institutional and spiritual freedom”, and mourning the victims and demanding democracy and freedom are two “inseparable” things.

“We all know that the reason we’re going through lockdowns and Covid testing is because it’s a political move, not a scientific and logical response to preventing an epidemic,” he said. “That’s why we have a lot of political demands other than removing the locks.”

A protester in Chengdu said he was encouraged by the wave of demonstrations sweeping the country.

“A lot of people turned out to be awake,” he said. “I feel like I see a ray of light ahead.”

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