Beijing/Hong Kong, Nov 29 (EFE).- Students in Hong Kong held a rally on Tuesday in defiance of a police crackdown on a wave of protests against China’s strict “zero-Covid” policy that has swept across many of the country’s biggest cities.
University students in the Special Administrative Region held up blank sheets of paper and called for “freedom” and an end to the measures, which can see entire districts be placed under strict lockdown and mass testing introduced after only a handful of positive cases are detected.
Blank sheets of paper have become one of the symbols of the rare protests that have gripped several of the country’s main cities to denounce censorship and the lack of freedom of expression in the country.
Despite the threat of arrest and imprisonment, Chinese citizens have taken to the streets to make unprecedented calls for president Xi Jinping – who recently cemented his grip on power after he secured a third term in office – and the ruling Communist Party to step down over the government’s refusal to relax its approach to curbing the spread of coronavirus.
The civil unrest was sparked after at least 10 people died when their residential building in the western city of Urumqi caught fire, with videos shared on social media indicating that residents were stopped from escaping the burning building by security personnel enforcing lockdown measures.
Beijing, meanwhile, awoke on Tuesday to a tense calm after stiff security measures imposed in response to the weekend of protests against the government’s stringent Covid strategy were lifted.
Authorities had reacted to the protests by boosting numbers of security personnel in the city on Monday night and fencing off areas of the capital to prevent the demonstrations. EFE