Beijing (Web Desk): Crowds of demonstrators in Shanghai shouted and held up blank sheets of paper, as protests flared in China against heavy COVID-19 curbs following a deadly fire in the country’s far west sparked widespread anger.
The wave of civil disobedience, which has included protests in cities including Beijing and Urumqi, where the fire occurred, is unprecedented in mainland China since Xi Jinping assumed power a decade ago.
In Shanghai, China’s most populous city, residents had 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 as 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.
Later, a large group chanted “Down with the Chinese Communist Party, down with Xi Jinping”, according to witnesses and videos, in a rare public protest against the country’s leadership.