beijing
CNN

Demonstrations erupt across China, including in universities and in Shanghai, where hundreds of people chanted “Resign, Xi Jinping!” Quit, Communist Party! in an unprecedented show of defiance against the country’s strict and increasingly costly zero-Covid policy.

A deadly fire at an apartment building in the country’s far western region of Xinjiang that killed 10 people and injured nine on Thursday appears to have fueled anger, as a video emerged that appeared to suggest that lockdown measures have delayed firefighters’ access to victims.

Protests erupted in cities and universities across China on Saturday and early Sunday morning, according to social media videos and testimonies.

Videos widely circulated on Chinese social media show hundreds of people in downtown Shanghai on Saturday lighting candles to mourn the dead of the Xinjiang blaze.

Later, the crowd held up blank white sheets of paper – in what is traditionally a symbolic protest against censorship – and chanted: “Need human rights, need freedom”.

In several videos seen by CNN, people could be heard shouting demands for Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Communist Party to “resign.” The crowd also chanted “I don’t want a Covid test, I want freedom!” and “I don’t want a dictatorship, I want democracy!”

Some videos show people singing the Chinese national anthem and The International, a standard of the socialist movement, while holding up banners protesting Beijing’s exceptionally tough pandemic measures.

A security guard tries to cover a zero-Covid protest slogan on the Peking University campus in Beijing.

Protests also erupted in the capital Beijing. A student from the prestigious Peking University told CNN that when he arrived at the scene of the protest around 1 a.m. Sunday local time, there were around 100 students and security guards were using jackets to cover a protest slogan painted on the wall.

“Say no to lockdown, yes to freedom. No to Covid testing, yes to food,” reads the message written in red paint, echoing the slogan of a protest that took place on a Beijing overpass in October. , just days before a key Communist Party meeting in which Xi secured a third term in power.

“Open your eyes and look at the world, dynamic zero-Covid is a lie,” read the slogan of the protest at Peking University.

The student said security guards then covered the slogan in black paint.

Students then gathered to sing the Internationale before being dispersed by teachers and security guards.

Students from the Communication University of China in Nanjing gathered Saturday night for a vigil to mourn the victims of the Xinjiang fire.

In the eastern province of Jiangsu, dozens of students from the Communication University of China, Nanjing, gathered to mourn those who died in the Xinjiang fire. Videos show the students wielding white sheets of paper and cellphone flashlights.

In one video, a university official could be heard warning students: “You’re going to pay for what you did today.”

“So are you, and so is the country,” one student shouted in response.

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