Videos show huge protests in China as Xi Jinping comes under pressure

Videos shared on social media show protests in China erupting after 10 people died in an apartment fire, in the latest sign of unrest in the country.

Huge protests have taken place in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region following the deaths, with protesters directing their anger at the country’s tough COVID-19 policies.

Xi Jinping addresses the Chinese Communist Party
China’s President Xi Jinping addresses the media at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on October 23, 2022. Fresh protests in the country could put renewed pressure on Xi as he begins his third term.

The crowd shouted “end the lockdown” in videos shared on social media on Friday night as protesters appeared to link China’s zero-COVID-19 policy to the loss of life.

While authorities said residents of the high-rise were able to walk down the stairs, Reuters reported on Saturday that videos shared on Chinese social media showing rescue efforts led many to believe residents could not get out because the Building was partially closed.

The new protests will increase pressure on Chinese President Xi Jinping after unrest broke out among workers at Foxconn’s flagship iPhone factory, where thousands of workers have resigned.

That protest was fueled in part by China’s COVID-19 restrictions, and videos showing the Foxconn protests in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, quickly spread online.

The plant had been in lockdown following a COVID-19 outbreak in October and was due to be partially closed from midnight Friday until midnight November 29 to curb rising infections.

The footage, posted to Twitter by Chinese political cartoonist Badiucao, showed a large chanting crowd gathered in the capital of Urumqi in Xinjiang, in far north-west China.

“People are singing ‘Stop the lockdown’ ‘We are human'” wrote the cartoonist.

Other videos posted by Badiucao showed protesters waving a flag and apparently singing the Chinese national anthem. Another showed what the artist tweeted as “a massive female police officer with ‘大白 big white’ Covid gear was dispatched to crackdown on anti-zero Covid protest in Urumuqi.”

According to Reuters, protesters had shouted at guards in hazmat suits.

Janis Mackey Frayer, Asia correspondent for NBC News, shared footage of protesters chanting “End Lockdowns”.

“Anger over #China’s zero #COVID lockdowns is mounting after a tragic fire in #Urumqi killed 10 people (including children) in an area where many have been homebound for the past 3 months. Previously there were videos of protests circulating (chanting “End Lockdowns”) censors took them down,” Frayer tweeted.

The BBC’s China correspondent Stephen McDonell also shared a video on Twitter showing protests in Xinjiang on Saturday morning.

The footage showed a crowd, some wearing face masks, and a man who appeared to be addressing the crowd with a megaphone.

“#Xinjiang is the latest region in #China for protests demanding an end to #ZeroCovid lockdowns,” McDonell wrote. “There have been lockdowns there for months. After people died in a house fire, there are claims that residents were not let out quickly enough and firefighters were delayed boarding.”

McDonell shared another video by Deutsche Welle correspondent Mathias Boelinger showing protesters marching through the streets.

Andy Sharp, news editor for politics and business at Nikkei Asia, pointed out that Xi Jinping was elected to a third term as president in October. He will begin his new term in March in a move that breaks with the country’s political norms.

“Protests appear to be spreading across China. Not the start Xi wanted for his third term. The question is how will the CCP try to suppress them now?” Sharp tweeted.

news week has asked the Chinese government for comment.

Do you have a tip on a world news story that news week should cover? Do you have a question about the Chinese protests? Let us know at Videos show huge protests in China as Xi Jinping comes under pressure

Rick Schindler

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