Protests Spread Across China From Their Recent Covid Protocols


Caption: Police form walls in order to create barriers against the protestors Credit: CNN ​​

Megan Wang, Reporter

An apartment building fire that led to the deaths of 10 residents in Northwestern China’s Xinjiang region has recently sparked protests and interest from residents all over China. Many individuals find blame in the government’s harsh covid precautions and mandates, which have caused many individuals to lose their lives. 

“The prevention and control of the epidemic have largely affected the normal life of many Chinese citizens and their loved ones. I believe that people in all cities should unite together and protest the government’s mistaken policy,””

— Cynthia Lan (9)

On November 24, 2022, flames started to spread across the 15th and the 17th floor of an apartment building located in Urumqi, China, which is known to be a very wealthy area in northern China and in a prime location right next to the city’s Grand Bazar. 


According to Sean Decraene, director of operational safety services for the International Association of Fire Fighters, “Time is critical,” as stated in DW. Despite the apartment slowly getting occupied by hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, and other deadly chemical gasses, the fire took close to three hours to extinguish. Videos that have been released through social media show how the water that was being released by far-distanced fire trucks was too short and barely touched the burning building. As mentioned in DW, many theorize that the restriction of access from firetrucks was due to the overwhelming amount of pandemic control barriers or the untouched cars that had started to break down. Since they could not be properly maintained, most of their owners were still in quarantine.


In September 2022, many of the residents complained of hunger surrounding spotty and inconsistent food deliveries, according to AP News. Along with being unable to go outside, many residents couldn’t get their necessities. In addition, many residents have found themselves without conditions and medical mediation in noncovid emergencies. 


As stated in BBC News, The government’s covid precautions and mandates included: Local authorities must impose strict lockdowns regardless of only a few testing positive, and mass testing is carried out in places where cases have been reported and carried out constantly. People who test positive are isolated at home or placed under quarantine at government facilities. Businesses and schools are closed in lockdown areas, including shops except for those selling food. Also, lockdowns must be enforced until no new infections are reported. 


As stated in BBC news, some authorities have even gone beyond the measures “such as forcing workers to sleep inside factories so they can work while quarantined.”


The recent event is not the only event in which the government’s precautions have caused fatalities. On September 18, 2022, there was a bus crash that resulted in the death of 27 people and injured 20 people while transporting residents to a Covid quarantine facility. Furthermore, in early November, a toddler’s death of a toddler occurred due to a suspected gas leak in a locked-down residential compound and how; hotlines were unresponsive, and online medical counseling was the only available medical help. 


After nearly three years of lockdowns, quarantines, border closures, strict mandates, financial hardship, and the death of loved ones, thousands across China are coming to the streets to protest. In demand for the quarantine to be over, for mandates and precautions to be lessened, and for Democracy, according to CNN. Protests have also been commonly carried out at universities, such as Tsinghua University, where hundreds of students gathered, shouting: “Democracy and the rule of law! Freedom of expression.” At the prestigious and famed Peking University, students have been shown chanting, “say not to lockdowns, yes to freedom.” In addition, at Nanjing university, students have held up blank papers to signify China’s censorship.


As stated in CNN, some protests have been carried out peacefully while several have involved the police arresting citizens. Around 80 to 100 protesters have been detained in shanghai. Before protestors are released, their fingerprints and retina patterns have to be collected, as mentioned by a protester in Shanghai (CNN). Beijing emerged as a protest hotspot on November 27, as hundreds of students gathered at the elite Tsinghua University, shouting: “Democracy and the rule of law! Freedom of expression!”


These scenes were “extraordinary” since residents and citizens are bravely starting to revolt and protest against the tight and strict law. Following the recent protests, an overwhelming number of messages have flooded social media all across china. Statements included: “You’ve lost all credibility,” said a Twitter user. Another user wrote: “We’ve cooperated with you for three years. Now, it’s time to give our freedom back.” 


Citizens have also expressed concern about how the extreme covid precautions are holding people back from living a normal life. “The prevention and control of the epidemic have largely affected the normal life of many Chinese citizens and their loved ones. I believe that people in all cities should unite together and protest the government’s mistaken policy,” stated Cynthia Lan (9), on her perspective of the government’s mandatory rules.