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Shanghai Covid Protests Break Out as Lockdowns Fury Builds

The Shanghai show of dissent comes after a deadly fire in Urumqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang province, where Covid curbs were blamed for hampering rescue efforts

Shanghai lockdown
A worker in a protective suit stands inside an area under lockdown amid the coronavirus disease in Shanghai, March 26, 2022. Photo: Aly Song, Reuters.



Covid lockdown protests erupted on the streets of Shanghai on Sunday as the pressure mounts on Beijing with public dissent growing over its zero-Covid policy.

A deadly fire on Thursday in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China’s Xinjiang region, sparked an outpouring of anger as many social media users blamed lengthy Covid lockdowns in the city for hampering rescue efforts.


Read more: Covid Protests Erupt in China’s Xinjiang After Fatal Blaze


In Shanghai’s central Wulumuqi street, named for Urumqi in Mandarin, in a video widely shared on social media, some protesters were heard chanting “Xi Jinping, step down! CCP, step down!” in a rare display of public opposition to the country’s top leadership.

Video taken by an eyewitness showed people gathering in central Shanghai to mourn the 10 victims killed in the Urumqi fire. Other vigils took place at universities across the country, according to posts widely circulating on social media.

Authorities were swift to curb online discussion of the protest, with phrases related to the visit scrubbed from the Twitter-like Weibo platform almost immediately after footage of the rallies emerged.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


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Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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