onsdag 7. desember 2022

Chinese protests are about more than COVID – student discontent has fuelled the biggest movement since Tiananmen Square

Protests have erupted across China, initially in response to the deaths of ten people in a fire in an apartment block in Xinjiang in the country’s northwest. The demonstrations represent the biggest expression of public unrest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement was savagely crushed.The deaths have been blamed on China’s strict zero-COVID policy. The deceased were reportedly prevented from leaving the burning building and their deaths have sparked an outpouring of grief and anger.

Many of the demonstrations have been led by students. According to reports in the international media, by November 27 public protests of various sizes had been staged by students from at least 79 universities across 15 provinces of China.

Students have a range of grievances, high among them the zero-COVID policy. But, more broadly, many are protesting against the regime’s stifling of free speech and its heavy-handed political control. On one campus – Tsingshua University in Beijing – a video captured hundreds of students gathering to air their grievances.