More zero-Covid protests in China after deadly lockdown fire in Xinjiang

Last Thursday, a fire in the westernmost region of Xinjiang killed dozens of people, a tragedy linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s extreme Zero-Covid and quarantine policy of restricting people in their homes.

On Saturday night, mourners used blank A4 paper for the event on Shanghai’s Urumqi Road. White is a common funeral color in China and expresses the implied anger of the millions of people who have suffered under the CCP’s extreme policies. Vigils have evolved into street protests, with many people holding white paper as a symbol of silent resistance. On China’s suppressed, censored Internet, information favorable to the government can be found everywhere, while unfavorable ones are blocked. The CCP has zero tolerance for open dissent, and many people can only communicate through subtle methods, one of the most prominent of which is the use of white paper in Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities. As more and more people gathered, sorrow and frustration became condemnation of the government. Protesters adopted this sarcastic approach to express their anger at the lockdown measures. Protesters on-site shouted, “Xi Jinping step down!”

One protester said, “The white paper represents everything we want to say but can’t.” Because the display of white paper cannot be considered a crime or an act of sedition, similar tactics were used in the 2019 Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement and the 2022 Russian demonstrations against the invasion of Ukraine. However, CCP censors are trying to erase all images of blank paper and associated hashtags on various social media platforms. “If you are afraid of a blank piece of paper, it means you are weak in your heart,” protesters said.

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