China rocked by new anti-lockdown protests and calls for President Xi Jinping to quit

27 November 2022, 16:05 | Updated: 27 November 2022, 17:17

Police clash with protestors in Shanghai this morning
Police clash with protestors in Shanghai this morning. Picture: Getty

By Adam Solomons

Student-led protests have erupted across China in the latest public reaction to President Xi's so-called zero-COVID policy.

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Mass protests in Shanghai last night were followed by demonstrations at a university in Beijing this morning as the Chinese government sought to impose the latest in a series of wide, severe restrictions.

Violence has broken out between police and protesters in at least seven cities including financial hub Shanghai, capital Beijing, Guanghzou and Nanjing.

Some observers claim the number gathered is the highest to publicly protest China's government since the 1989 wave of unrest that resulted in demonstrations at Tiananmen Square - and a deadly state response.

Crowds stood and filmed as officers shoved people who had gathered in the street and shouted “We don’t want PCR tests, we want freedom!”, according to a witness.

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President Xi is pictured during a visit to Thailand last month
President Xi is pictured during a visit to Thailand last month. Picture: Getty

Since Friday anger and frustration has flared over a number of deaths in a fire in an apartment building in Urumqi.

Locals believe rescue efforts were kneecapped by excessive lockdown measures.

In the early hours of Sunday, standing on the road named after a city in Xinjiang where at least 10 people died in the apartment fire, protesters chanted “Xi Jinping! Step down! CCP! Step down.”

One member of the crowd confirmed that people did shout for the removal of Xi Jinping, China’s leader – words many would never have thought would be said in one of China’s biggest cities.

People called for an official apology for deaths in the Urumqi fire.

Others discussed the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in which the ruling Communist Party had ordered troops to fire on student protesters. One ethnic Uighur individual shared his experiences of discrimination and police violence.

Police detain a man protesting the new zero-COVID lockdown
Police detain a man protesting the new zero-COVID lockdown. Picture: Getty

“Everyone thinks that Chinese people are afraid to come out and protest, that they don’t have any courage,” said the protester, who said it was his first time demonstrating.

“Actually in my heart, I also thought of this. But then when I went there, I found that the environment was such that everyone was very brave.”

China has pursued a zero-COVID policy in search of eradicating the pandemic entirely.

But one-third of those aged 60 or more have not been jabbed, official figures show. That's around 88 million people.

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