Protests against China’s stringent Covid restrictions have intensified, as a wave of civil disobedience triggered by a deadly fire in the far west reached levels in the mainland not seen since Xi Jinping assumed power a decade ago.
At Beijing’s elite Tsinghua University, students shouted “freedom will prevail” and called for an end to lockdowns, while crowds also returned to Middle Urumqi Road in Shanghai for a second day, and pushed down pandemic barricades in Wuhan.
In an unusually bold act that appeared to indicate the level of people’s desperation, a crowd in Shanghai had called for the removal of the Communist party and Xi in a standoff with police late on Saturday, according to videos circulated on Twitter. Chinese people usually refrain from criticising the party and its leaders in public for fear of reprisals. “Communist party! Step down! Xi Jinping! Step down!” they chanted.