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Protests against covid lockdown, Xi turn violent in China

Mass demonstrations spread to Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Wuhan and Shanghai. In Guangzhou, the protesters raised slogans like “We don’t want lockdowns, we want freedom! In Shanghai, they clashed with the police.

BEIJING, Nov 28: Protests against lockdowns and President Xi Jinping's zero-covid policy are spreading across China. Violent incidents were reported from several areas like the city of Shanghai where the protesters clashed with the police on Monday. The protesters are also openly calling for the ouster of Xi, demanding political freedoms and relief from the economic distress brought about by the lockdowns.

Mass demonstrations spread to Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou and Wuhan. In Guangzhou, they raised slogans like “We don’t want lockdowns, we want freedom! Freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of arts, freedom of movement, personal freedoms. Give me back my freedom!”

Resentment over Xi's rule is also brewing in university campuses, especially the Peking University, a reminder of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989.

According to a CNN report, protesters shouted “Step down, Xi Jinping! Step down, Communist Party!” , “Don’t want Covid test, want freedom!” and “Don’t want dictatorship, want democracy!” and clashed with the police in the city of Shanghai. Police detained the protesters as protests are not allowed under the Chinese system. BBC journalist Edward Lawrence was arrested from the site on Sunday night.

"The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai," the British public service broadcaster said in a statement.

Ostensibly the protests were fuelled by the Thursday fire at an apartment block in Xinjiang’s Capital Urumqi which claimed 10 lives. People gathered along the roads to Beijing to mourn the dead, blaming the deaths on the lockdown which is said to have delayed firefighting and prevented emergency medical aid.

In several lockdown-bound areas protesters tore down barriers.

Meanwhile, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the social media posts on the protests linking the Xinjiang fire with covid policies had “ulterior motives.”

On Monday China reported 40,347 new covid infections.

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