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Chinese police clash with thousands protesting draconian COVID lockdowns


Unprecedented civil unrest grips country - after ten died in fire when building doors were locked to stop virus spread

Protests against Covid restrictions in China appear to have intensified with police arresting people on Saturday night

  • In Shanghai, China's most populous city and financial hub, protests broke out on Saturday night at the city's Wulumuqi Road

  • 'Lift lockdown for Urumqi, lift lockdown for Xinjiang, lift lockdown for all of China!' the crowds in Shanghai shouted, according to a video on social media

  • At one point a large group began shouting, 'Down with the Chinese Communist Party, down with Xi Jinping, free Urumqi!', according to witnesses and videos in a rare public protest against the Chinese leadership

  • A large group of police looked on and sometimes tried to break up the crowd

  • China is battling a surge in infections that prompted lockdowns and restrictions in cities across the country

  • Beijing is attempting stick to a zero-COVID policy even as much of the world tries to coexist with the virus

  • Public fury forced authorities in Xinjiang to open up parts of the capital Urumqi which has been subject to a punishing 'zero-Covid' lockdown for over 3 months

  • The protests were triggered in-part by deaths of at least ten people in a fire at an apartment block who were unable to escape because their doors had been locked due to the virus

Chinese police have clashed with thousands protesting the country's draconian COVID lockdowns - as unprecedented civil unrest gripped the nation.

Demonstrations erupted in at least seven cities - including Shanghai, Nanjing and Guangzhou - with violence breaking out between local cops and furious protesters.

The largest demonstration appeared in Shanghai - home to 26million residents - with many boldly demanding President Xi Jinping resign.

Officers used pepper spray against about 300 protesters, according to a witness, but western journalists reported the numbers to be in the thousands.

Meanwhile last night hundreds gathered to mourn the deaths of at least 10 people in an apartment fire last week in Urumqi in the Xinjiang region, where residents were sealed in their buildings to try to stop the spread of COVID.

It comes amid China launching another mass crackdown on the virus with crippling lockdowns put in place across the country, nearly three years after the pandemic started there.

The nation reported another 39,791 new cases spread across the country - the biggest one-day increase on record - including a record 4,307 in Beijing alone.

But it appears ill-equipped for the latest battle with COVID, with it using its own vaccines, rather than approved foreign ones, which do not have the same effectiveness at beating back the virus.

Public fury forced authorities in the far western Xinjiang region to open up parts of the capital Urumqi, which has been subject to a punishing 'zero-Covid' lockdown for more than three months.

Witnesses said one of the protests also occurred in Urumqi where the fire occurred after complaints it worsened the death toll.

The protest was triggered by the deaths of at least 10 people in a fire at a high-rise apartment block. Some have claimed lockdown measures hampered rescue efforts and the ability of residents to escape.

Footage posted online showed hundreds of demonstrators confronting riot police on the streets of Urumqi, where many of the four million residents have been barred from leaving their homes for as long as 100 days.

President Xi Jinping´s government faces mounting anger at its 'zero-COVID' policy that has shut down access to areas throughout China in an attempt to isolate every case at a time when other governments are easing controls and trying to live with the virus.

That has kept China´s infection rate lower than the United States and other countries. But the ruling Communist Party faces growing complaints about the economic and human cost as businesses close and families are isolated for weeks with limited access to food and medicine.

Some protesters were shown in videos shouting for Xi to step down or the ruling party to give up power.

One video shows a man shouting at uniformed officials, 'Whose children are you, and whose father are you? Don't you have a conscience? How many people died today?'

Other videos showed demonstrators in a plaza singing China's national anthem, seen as an attempt to protect themselves from accusations of being against the government. One of the lines is: 'Rise up, those who refuse to be slaves.'

In some scenes, people shouted and pushed against rows of men in the white whole-body hazmat suits.


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