Protests against China’s heavy COVID-19 curbs spread to more cities, including the financial hub Shanghai on Sunday, nearly three years into the pandemic, with a fresh wave of anger sparked by a deadly fire in the country’s far west.
The recent protests was sparked by a fire on Thursday left 10 people dead in a high-rise building in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang region.
Reports alleged that the residents could not escape in time because the building was partially locked down, but city officials have denied the allegation.
In Shanghai, China’s most populous city, residents gathered on Saturday night at Wulumuqi Road which is named after Urumqi for a candlelight vigil that turned into a protest in the early hours of Sunday.
As a large group of police looked on, the crowd held up blank sheets of paper a protest symbol against censorship.
Later on, they shouted, “lift lockdown for Urumqi, lift lockdown for Xinjiang, lift lockdown for all of China, according to a video circulated on social media.
China is adhering to its zero-COVID policy even while much of the world tries to coexist with the coronavirus.
Though low by global standards, China’s cases have hit record high for days, with nearly 40,000 new infections recorded on Saturday.
Officials have vowed to defend Xi’s zero-COVID policy describing it as life-saving and necessary to prevent overwhelming the healthcare system.
Writing by Tersoo Nicholas; Editing by Annabel Nwachukwu