[上海／北京 ２７日 ロイター] – Protests against China’s strict new coronavirus restrictions spread to cities including Shanghai by 27. The fires in Urumqi, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, sparked outrage and even criticized the Chinese leadership.
At least 10 people died on Sunday in a fire in a skyscraper in Urumqi. Although the authorities deny it, there are rumors on the internet that the residents were unable to escape because the building was partially blocked (locked).
In Shanghai, on the night of the 26th, residents gathered on a street in the city named after Urumqi and held a memorial service with candles. The crowd held up blank sheets of paper in protest against censorship as a large police force looked on.
The crowd then shouted, “Release the blockade of Urumqi, lift the blockade of Xinjiang, lift the blockade of all of China,” according to videos posted on social media.
Elsewhere, a large crowd began shouting, “Let the Communist Party of China get out of the office, get out of Xi Jinping!”, according to witnesses and videos. Public protests against Chinese leaders are unusual.
The Shanghai municipal government was not immediately available for comment.
In the northwestern city of Lanzhou, residents toppled COVID-19 first responders’ temporary tents and destroyed coronavirus test booths during protests on the 26th, and the posts were widely shared on Chinese social media.
Memorial activities for the victims of the Urumqi fire were also held at universities in cities such as Nanjing and Beijing. Netizens posted white squares on social media to show their solidarity. On the morning of the 27th, the hashtag “Blank Paper Movement” was blocked on the Chinese version of Twitter, Weibo.
Dan Mattingly, assistant professor of political science at Yale University, said: “There is a high possibility that the party will be cracked down and some protesters will be arrested and prosecuted.” “As long as the elite is undivided and has the PLA and the security apparatus, its power will not face big risks,” he said.