tirsdag 29. november 2022

Blank paper, equations and alpacas: the symbols of China’s zero-Covid protests

Blank sheets of paper, mathematical equations and even alpacas: protesters in China have found creative ways to express anger at the government’s zero-Covid measures, unleashing a wave of dissent against long and severe lockdowns, the deaths of factory workers in Urumqi, and the censorship they’re not allowed to talk about.

The extraordinary protests, which began over the weekend and spread to cities across China including Shanghai and Beijing, have been characterised by acts of civil disobedience, including clashes with police. The most widely used symbol in the demonstrations has been a blank sheet of paper. It symbolises censorship, and may also, some Twitter users pointed out, be read as a reference to the deaths last week of ten factory workers in Urumqi, Xinjiang; in China white is a colour used at funerals.

Others have dared to put text and symbols on their sheets. One group of protesters printed the Friedman equation, which governs the expansion of the universe – the equations name sounds like the words “Freed man”.