‘Xi step down’ – protests erupt in China over harsh Covid curbs

BEIJING, Dec. 28, 2019 (Xinhua) — Li Zhanshu, chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, speaks during the closing meeting of the 15th session of the 13th NPC Standing Committee at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 28, 2019. (Xinhua/Liu Weibing/IANS)

New Delhi, Nov 27 (IANS) Protests against Chinese government’s strict Covid measures have intensified with people taking to the streets against President Xi Jinping’s harsh zero-Covid policy.

Thousands of protesters turned out in Shanghai, where people were bundled into police cars, BBC reported.

Students were also seen demonstrating at universities in Beijing and Nanjing, among other places.

The latest unrest follows a protest in the remote north-west city of Urumqi, where lockdown rules were blamed after 10 people died in a tower block fire, BBC reported.

Though Chinese authorities denied that Covid curbs caused the deaths, officials in Urumqi issued an apology late on Friday, pledging to “restore order” by phasing out Covid curbs, the report said.

During Saturday night’s protest in Shanghai, people were heard openly shouting slogans like ‘Xi Jinping, step down’ and ‘Communist party, step down’, BBC reported.

People were seen holding blank banners, while others lit candles and laid flowers as a mark of tribute to the victims in Urumqi.

Such demands are an unusual sight within China, where any direct criticism of the government and the President can result in harsh penalties, BBC reported.

Demonstrators who led anti-government chants were taken away, and punched or pushed up against a police car in some cases, the report said.

Meanwhile, Beijing on Sunday promised to ban the practice of barring building gates in closed-off residential compounds.

In particular, barricading building gates and residential-complex entries in high-risk areas has been strictly prohibited, Xinhua news agency reported.

Snap lockdowns have caused anger across the country – and Covid restrictions more broadly have trigged recent violent protests from Zhengzhou to Guangzhou, BBC reported.

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