The protests against the restrictions imposed by China in its 'zero covid' strategy have spread this weekend to major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Nanjing. Thousands of Chinese citizens thus show their outrage over the death of 10 people in the fire of an apparently confined building in Urumqi, in the northwest of the country, last Thursday.
According to videos and testimonies circulating on social media, the outrage that flooded China's heavily censored internet on Friday turned into vigils yesterday in memory of the victims, who some commentators said spent the last 100 days of their lives in prison. in their homes.
While the official press does not account for the incidents, some recordings showed how dozens of people tore down yesterday the fences with which the authorities close off the housing estates confined to the vast residential complex of Tiantongyuan, in the north of Beijing, sometimes described by the Chinese media as the largest in Asia, with some 700,000 residents.
The Chinese capital, especially shielded against outbreaks since 2020, is now experiencing its highest levels of infections: according to the latest official report, this Saturday more than 4,300 new cases were detected, of which 82% are asymptomatic according to the standards of the health authorities.
These figures, low by international standards but intolerable for the Chinese authorities, have resulted in restrictions and confinements that affect a large part of the capital's population, as has already happened this year in other parts of the country such as the aforementioned Urumqi or the eastern megalopolis of Shanghai, which experienced a harsh confinement this year that lasted for more than two months in some areas.
Precisely in that city, and precisely on Urumqi street, hundreds of people gathered last night to celebrate a vigil in memory of those who died in the fire that passed in a mostly peaceful manner, according to testimonies on networks, among which some affirm that there were arrests.
The recordings show groups of protesters singing "Those who refuse to be slaves, rise up" - a stanza from the Chinese national anthem - or 'The Internationale', shouting "we want freedom", "we do not want to have PCR tests" or "that they fuck the QR codes", referring to the obligation to scan the health QR codes with a mobile application at the entrance of any establishment or even in parks so that, when the authorities detect a contagion, they can determine who has had contact with that person at all times.
At one point in the night, a group of people even chanted "Down with the Communist Party, down with Xi Jinping," a rare public display of disapproval of the country's leader's policies.
According to the specialized portal What's On Weibo, numerous commentators on the Weibo social network -the local equivalent of Twitter, censored in the country- showed support for the vigil but, above all, asked the participants to protect themselves, before the censors of the platform prohibited commenting on the label that was used to talk about the subject.
That same portal indicates that, at a university in the eastern city of Nanjing, many students gathered on campus last night and turned on the flashlights of their mobile phones as a vigil for those killed in Urumqi.
Meanwhile, at another university, in this case in Xi'an (downtown), a city that has also experienced harsh lockdowns, a group of students took to the streets of the campus to show their discontent over the anti-covid lockdowns, which have also been a major drag on the national economy this year.
The Asian giant, practically isolated from the rest of the world since the beginning of 2020, has suffered numerous waves of outbreaks since the beginning of this year attributed to the contagious omicron variant, which has put the national zero-tolerance strategy against the coronavirus in check by causing figures of infections higher than even those at the beginning of the pandemic.
According to data from the National Health Commission, China broke its record of covid infections for the fourth consecutive day by detecting almost 40,000 new infections this Saturday, although more than 90% of them are considered asymptomatic and do not add to the official case balances. confirmed.
The institution's figures show that close to 1.8 million people currently remain under quarantine, since the guideline calls for transferring those infected -including those who are asymptomatic- to hospitals or isolation centers and also, although separately, to the people who have had contact with them.