In brewing trouble for President XI Jinping, China’s rare public protests opposing stringent Covid lockdowns turned political on Sunday with protestors shouting slogans against President Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party, as the demonstrations spread to the university campuses in Beijing and Nanjing. Shanghai, where thousands of protestors converged at the Wulumuqi Road — which is named after Xinjiang provincial capital Urumqi — witnessed fresh demonstrations on Sunday despite the heavy presence of police. The protests, which began in the morning, intensified with the participation of hundreds of people by mid-afternoon. According to videos posted on social media about the protests in Shanghai, people were heard openly shouting slogans such as “Xi Jinping, step down” and “Communist party, step down”, a BBC report said.
Hale said the protests are extremely significant as the politics of COVID policies reflected wider political frustrations including the slowing down of the economy. Elsewhere protesters held blank white banners, while others lit candles and laid flowers for the victims in Urumqi, where 10 people were killed in a fire at a building reportedly under Covid lockdown on Thursday.
Observers say that the latest political protests appeared to be in continuation of "banner protest" in Beijing last month ahead of the CPC's once-in-a-five-year Congress which elected 69-year-old Xi for an unprecedented 3rd five-year term.
The anti-lockdown protests appear to be posing a major challenge for Xi, just over a month into his third term in power. Political protests opposing the CPC and its leadership are very rare in China while the country witnesses sporadic agitations over various issues. As such criticism of the party and leadership could result in harsh penalties.
This is perhaps the first sign that China's autocratic leadership is facing trouble within the country.
(Inputs from national & international news feed)