Following a fire that claimed the lives of 10 people in an apartment building in Urumqi, protests against COVID regulations in China appear to have gotten worse.
Thousands of people demonstrated against restrictions and remembered the victims on Shanghai’s streets. There were numerous cries for President Xi Jinping to step down.
At least three persons were observed being loaded into police cars by the BBC.
The death toll from the fire has been attributed to the lockdown of apartment buildings.
Chinese authorities dispute that it was the cause, but late on Friday, Urumqi officials did issue an unusual apology and promised to “restore order” by gradually removing restrictions.
“Xi Jinping, resign,”
Some protesters were seen burning candles and placing flowers for the victims at the demonstration in Shanghai, China’s largest metropolis and a major financial center.
Slogans like “Xi Jinping, step down” and “Communist party, step down” could be heard being shouted by others. Others had white flags that were empty.
Such demands are uncommon in China, where criticizing the president or the administration directly can result in severe repercussions.
One protester told the BBC that seeing people on the streets left him feeling “shocked and a bit delighted,” adding that it was the first time he had ever witnessed such widespread discontent in China.
He claimed that lockdowns had prevented him from visiting his ill mother, who was receiving cancer treatment, and had left him feeling “sad, furious, and helpless.”
When police officers were asked how they felt about the protests, the response was “the same as you,” a female protester told the BBC. But they “wear their uniforms so they’re doing their job,” she added.
A demonstrator told the news agency Associated Press that two of his friends had been pepper sprayed, and that one of his friends had been physically assaulted by police there.