Chinese protests: Youngsters’ asking for freedom.
Hundreds of protesters have been able to defy Chinese officials to take to the streets in universities and on the streets of major cities, calling to be released not just from constant Covid testing and locking downs. But from severe censorship and tightening of the Communist Party’s grip over all aspects of daily life.
In the United States, “want freedom” has been a slogan for an upsurge of Chinese protests predominantly directed by younger people too young to have been involved in earlier acts of open protest against the administration.
“Give freedom or let me die!” crowds by the hundreds of people chanted across various cities, according to videos posted on the internet, as vigils to commemorate the death of at most ten people in a blaze in Xinjiang turned into Chinese protests of the political kind.
Online videos indicate that China’s zero-Covid policy initially stopped emergency personnel from entering the scene, angered people across the nation who’ve endured three years of inconsistent Covid control.
A few protesters sang for free speech as well as legality, rights of the human as well as other political demands across cities that span from the eastern financial centre of Shanghai to the capital city of Beijing and the metropolis in the south that is Guangzhou along with Chengdu located in western China.
CNN has confirmed, to date, 20 Chinese protests that were held across 15 Chinese cities.
While the Chinese protests in various parts of China seem to have mostly been peaceful throughout the weekend, some received a more significant response from the authorities and security measures have been strengthened across cities across China. In this country, authorities have extensive security and surveillance capabilities.
In Beijing, the city of Beijing, a significant police presence was visible on Monday night after Chinese protests broke out in Beijing. Police vehicles, many of them parked with flashing lights, were seen on quiet streets throughout parts of the capital city, especially near Liangmaqiao in Beijing’s central Chaoyang district, where many protesters gathered on Sunday night.
On Monday, when asked if “the general manifestation of anger and frustration” seen throughout the country could lead China to abandon its zero-Covid policy, A Foreign Ministry spokesman dismissed suggestions of discord.
“What you have stated doesn’t accurately reflect what exactly happened,” Zhao Lijian said. He said the authorities were “making changes” in their Covid policies according to “realities that are happening on the ground.”
“We believe that under an able leadership from the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese people, our battle against Covid-19 will be effective,” he said.
As a symbol of protest against ever-increasing censorship across China displayed, the white sheets symbolized the many critiques of news articles, critical posts and social media accounts that were flamboyant and erased from the web.
“I believe that everyone should not be punished for speaking out in a fair society. There shouldn’t be a single voice in our society, and there should be a range of different voices,” one Beijing protester said to CNN at the beginning of hours of Monday morning as he marched along Beijing’s Third Ring Road with a thin sheet of white A4 paper.
“I would like to see that in the future, I’ll no more be able to hold the white paper for the thoughts I would like to say,” said the protester, whom CNN will not name due to fears about the repercussions for being vocal.
The United Nations on Monday urged Chinese authorities to protect the “right to peacefully demonstrate,” Secretary-General spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told an annual briefing.
The sentiment was shared in the US. In a press conference the previous Monday, John Kirby, the communications coordinator of the National Security Council, repeatedly repeated the administration’s policy that “people should have the right to organize and peacefully protest the rules, laws, or orders they disagree with.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak criticized China on Monday and said, “instead of paying attention to the protests of their citizens and demands, the Chinese Government has decided to further crackdown as well as assaulting the BBC reporter.”
He was speaking of the arrest on Sunday by Edward Lawrence by police in Shanghai. The journalist reported on the city’s protests and was later released by the BBC.
Over this week, Chinese censors rushed to erase videos and pictures of Chinese protests from the Chinese internet, but the shocking images have been featured in the news worldwide.
In online comments, Chinese state media did not mention the protests but instead focused on the advantages of Beijing’s anti-Covid policies insisting that they were “scientific and efficient.”
However, to many protesters, these protests mean much more than Covid as they’re also bringing youngsters who are liberal whose attempts to speak up may be blocked by strict online restrictions on speech.
One Shanghai person in his 20s who participated in the candlelight vigil during the early hours of Sunday morning said they were greeted by young people carrying white paper and flowers. He was singing “want freedom” as they made their way towards the memorial made of sand.
“My colleagues and I have all been through Shanghai’s lockdown, and the iron fist (of this state) has fallen upon everyone,” they said to CNN, “That night, I felt like I could finally take action. I could not stay in my room and had to get out of the house.”
They cried quietly amid the crowd as the chants of freedom became more fervent.
“At the moment, I was aware that I’m certainly in good company,” they said. “I discovered I’m the sole person who feels this way.”
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Dissent in the political arena
In some protests, they have taken on a more adamant tone and openly demanded change in the political system.
On the initial night of the protests in Shanghai, the city people shouted, “Step down, Xi Jinping! Get back, Communist Party!” in a unique confrontation with the party’s leader. On Sunday night, a few protesters again demanded Xi’s ouster.
In Chengdu, protesters in Chengdu did not mention Xi. However, their message was difficult to miss. “Opposition to the dictatorship!” chanted hundreds of people lining the busy river banks of a renowned area for shopping and food on a Sunday evening, as per videos and one participant.
“We do not want a long-lasting ruler. We do not want Emperors!”. According to past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption may be quite dynamic, and the location and course of lava flows may swiftly alter, the observatory said in its study.
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According to the person who participated, the protesters also resisted changes in the political party’s constitution and the state constitution, which helped Xi consolidate his position as president and eliminate the limits on presidential terms.
As in Shanghai, The gathering began with a candlelight vigil to honour the fire victims that ravaged Urumqi on the evening of Thursday.
As more people joined, the gathering became a louder arena for discussing political resentments.
“Everyone began to shout these slogans easily,” the participant said. “It is scarce that we can have an event of this magnitude and demonstration. Our words for mourning did not seem enough, so we needed to shout certain words we would like to express.”
According to her, the experience of suffocating censorship always fuels the desire to have “institutional and spiritual liberty,” and grieving for the victims and pleading for the right to democracy and freedom are two “inseparable” aspects.
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“We all are aware that we are forced to continue to undergo locking downs and Covid tests because this is a political issue that is not a scientific or rational response to prevent epidemics,” she said. “That’s why we’re facing more demands from the political side, in addition to lifting the lockdowns.”
The Chengdu protester claimed she was at ease from the wave of protests across the nation.
“It appears that many are alert,” she said. “I could see a glimpse of light coming in ahead.”
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