Hundreds of people yesterday took to the streets in Beijing and Shanghai to protest China’s “zero COVID” policy in a rare outpouring of public anger against the state.
China’s hardline disease prevention strategy is stoking public frustration, with many growing weary of snap lockdowns, lengthy quarantines and mass testing campaigns.
A deadly fire on Thursday in Urumqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang region, has become a fresh catalyst for anger, with many blaming lengthy COVID-19 lockdowns for hampering rescue efforts.
Authorities deny the claims.
Hundreds yesterday rallied at Beijing’s elite Tsinghua University to protest against lockdowns, said one witness who asked to remain anonymous.
“At 11:30am, students started holding up signs at the entrance of the canteen, then more and more people joined. Now there are 200 to 300 people,” the person said.
Participants sang the national anthem and The Internationale — a standard of the international communist movement — and chanted “freedom will prevail” and “no to lockdowns, we want freedom,” they said.
They described students holding up blank pieces of paper, a symbolic protest against censorship.
A video that appeared to be taken at the same location, but was quickly taken down, showed students shouting: “Democracy and the rule of law, freedom of expression.”
Other vigils took place overnight at universities across China, while videos from Xian, Guangzhou and Wuhan showed similar small protests.
Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Shanghai yesterday afternoon near where a demonstration had erupted just hours earlier, an eyewitness said.
Demonstrators holding blank pieces of paper and white flowers stood silently at several intersections, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Footage from the area showed a crowd chanting during what appeared to be the late afternoon.
Later in the evening, an Agence France-Presse reporter saw a heavy security presence.
Dozens of police in yellow high-visibility jackets formed a thick line, cordoning off the streets where the protests had taken place, while their colleagues asked people to leave the area.
Crowds had gathered hours before on nearby Wulumuqi Street — named for Urumqi in Mandarin — with video showing protesters chanting: “Xi Jinping, step down; CCP, step down” in a rare display of public opposition to the Chinese Communist Party’s top leadership.
A person who attended the Shanghai protests but asked not to be identified said that the first rally was in full swing at 2am, with one group mourning the 10 people killed in the Urumqi fire, while another group chanted slogans.
Footage taken by an eyewitness showed a large crowd shouting and raising blank pieces of paper as they faced several lines of police.
Multiple witnesses said several people were taken away by the police.
Authorities were swift to curb online discussion of the protest, with related phrases scrubbed from Sina Weibo almost immediately after footage of the rallies emerged.
China’s state broadcaster is also cutting close-up shots of maskless fans at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, after early coverage sparked anger at home.
During a live broadcast of yesterday’s group game between Japan and Costa Rica, state broadcaster CCTV Sports replaced close-up shots of maskless fans waving flags with images of players, officials or the soccer stadium.
ANTI-SHIP CONFIGURATION: The Tuo Chiang-class vessels are to be built for NT$9.7 billion by Lung Teh, a shipyard that previously built four similar corvettes for the navy The Ministry of National Defense on Wednesday awarded Lung Teh Shipbuilding (龍德造船) a NT$9.7 billion Co (US$317.57 million) contract to build five Tuo Chiang-class corvettes with anti-ship capabilities, a defense official familiar with the matter said yesterday. The corvettes would carry vertical launchers for four Hsiung Feng II (HF-2) missiles, as well as eight Hsiung Feng III (HF-3) anti-ship missiles, in contrast to ships configured for anti-air warfare, which carry eight HF-2 and four HF-3 missiles, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The anti-ship corvettes would be armed for improved standoff range against surface combatants and carry the latest
NINE TYPES: One of the devices can be carried by a single soldier and can destroy high-value, high-risk vehicles as well as target personnel, an official said Taiwan’s top military research body yesterday unveiled nine domestically developed drones in Taichung, including a loitering munition, or “suicide drone,” similar to the US-made AeroVironment Switchblade 300. The surveillance and attack drones shown to the media by the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology included the Albatross medium-range uncrewed aerial vehicle Nos. 1 and 2, and the Teng Yun 2 and Cardinal 2 and 3 indigenous uncrewed combat aerial vehicles. The institute also unveiled a domestically made drone inspired by the AeroVironment Switchblade 300, which Ukrainian forces have employed in the country’s war with Russia. Aeronautical Systems Research Division head Chi Li-pin (齊立平)
PARTIAL SUPPORT: Morris Chang said he agrees with the US’ goal to slow advances of China’s chip sector, but US policies that might boost chip prices perplex him Washington’s efforts to on-shore semiconductor production might lead to surges in chip prices and supply bottlenecks, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) founder Morris Chang (張忠謀) said yesterday. The 91-year-old industry veteran said he supports parts of Washington’s effort to slow China’s progress on advanced chip manufacturing. China is still six years behind Taiwan in making advanced chips, despite years-long efforts to catch up, Chang told a Commonwealth Magazine forum that he coheadlined with Tufts University assistant professor Chris Miller, an expert on the US-China rivalry’s effects on chip manufacturing. However, Chang said that other parts of the effort, particularly Washington’s on-shoring
‘WRONG DECISION’: Honduras should carefully consider the situation, and not fall into China’s trap and jeopardize the bilateral friendship, the foreign ministry said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said that it had expressed “grave concern” to the government of Honduras after Honduran President Xiomara Castro on Tuesday wrote on Twitter that it would pursue official diplomatic relations with China. In addition to issuing a statement, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Yui (俞大㵢) summoned Honduran Ambassador to Taiwan Harold Burgos to the ministry in Taipei early yesterday to voice the government’s concerns. The meeting lasted about 20 minutes and Burgos did not make any public comments upon arriving at the ministry. Burgos said shortly after noon that he had not yet heard from his country’s