Nov 28 (Reuters) – Residents in some major Chinese cities took to the streets at the weekend to protest strict zero COVID-19 restrictions, some calling for President Xi Jinping to step down in scenes unprecedented since Xi assumed power a decade ago.
In the commercial capital Shanghai protesters clashed with police over restrictions that have taken a heavy toll on the economy and people’s freedoms.
Widespread public protests are rare in China under Xi and the protests saw Chinese stocks slump on Monday.
Here’s what people are saying about the unrest in China:
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LEMAR, 20，STUDENT BOXING COACH, BEIJING:
“We’ve come here to … oppose the pandemic prevention measures. We live in an autocratic world, and what we hope to see the most is for China to have true democracy and freedom,” the Beijing resident told Reuters at a candlelight vigil on Sunday night.
SHI, 28，WORKS IN ARTS SECTOR, BEIJING:
“We hope to end the lockdown and allow those who tested positive to have their quarantine at home. We hope they can avoid being transferred to quarantine centres and that others within the same compound or building will not be forced into a lockdown if there’s any positive cases,” she said.
“We want to live a normal life. I think we should all bravely express our feelings. I don’t know the impact this will bring, but these actions will inspire people around us to express their appeals and protect their own rights. I’m not afraid to come here today. I didn’t know what would happen, but there’s no reason for me to not come.”
SUMMER KAY, 24, INTERNET INDUSTRY, BEIJING:
“The pandemic and the codes have brought us so much torture. And now there are more people becoming unemployed, and it’s becoming an ordeal for kids and the elderly to get medical attention.
“If we just remain silent, I think it will only get worse … Maybe tomorrow the police will find us based on the records, maybe some of us will be arrested on strange charges and disappear.”
KAY HUANG, 28 WORKING IN ENTERTINMENT SECTOR, BEIJING:
“I’m really touched especially when they’re singing and everything they say – we want rights, freedom and don’t give up. That’s powerful. That’s warm,” Huang told Reuters at a candlelight vigil in east Beijing on Sunday night.
“I want to see Beijing going back to normal as a capital city. I want people to see people safe, and free and happy again, not to have so many negative thoughts. I want to feel hope instead of feeling numb everyday.” (Reporting By Martin Pollard Quin in Beijing; Yimou Lee in Taipei; Compiled by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Michael Perry)