The fire that killed at least 10 people in the Chinese city of Urumqi on November 24 reportedly led to multiple protests across the country. Following the country’s zero COVID policy, Urumqi residents have been placed under lockdown for four months. The fire prompted the public’s anger over the country’s stringent measures. Many posts on Chinese social media asked if prolonged lockdowns delayed rescue operations. Or if any restrictions, such as locked doors, prevented people from escaping.
Thousands joined to protest against the zero-COVID policy over the weekend in numerous major cities throughout China. Notably, as Chinese media Mimi Zhongguo reported, more than 50 colleges and universities in China have joined the unprecedented protests.
Former British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reporter based in Hong Kong, Wu Ruoshan, shared a list of universities joining the protests. It showed that in just three days, from November 25 to the morning of November 27, there were 51 universities taking part in the protests.
The post read, “They expressed anger against lockdown, control over freedom, mourned for victims.”
On November 27, hundreds of students at Beijing’s Tsinghua University launched protests in front of the Bauhinia Garden on campus. They also chanted slogans demanding democracy and freedom of expression.
In the so-called ‘blank white paper protest,’ also known as the “A4 Revolution,” Beijing students were seen holding up blank sheets of paper and shouting slogans like: “Government for the people, freedom for all.”
Chinese protesters are venting their frustration with COVID-19 restrictions on blank sheets of paper.
A 26-year-old man named Johnny, joining the protest in Beijing, told Reuters that “the white paper reflects everything we want to say but cannot speak.”
It is understood that the white paper represents anger that cannot be freely expressed.
On the evening of November 26, students from the Nanjing Institute of Communication gathered to mourn the fire victims in Xinjiang.
In the flashlight waves, they brandished the blank sheets of paper and shouted slogans: “Long live the people, rest in peace!”
As Insider News reported on November 28, multiple hashtags related to the protests have been widely censored on Weibo. Hashtags like “Tsinghua students white paper,” had not been found when searching.