DHARAMSALA, 13 Oct: A rare protest against Chinese President Xi Jinping and his policies was swiftly ended in Beijing, days ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s most important event on China’s political calendar.
While public protest against the top leadership is extremely rare in China, especially in the run-up to important political meetings as the Chinese authorities turn Beijing into a fortress to maintain security and stability, CNN reports that photos circulating on Twitter Thursday afternoon of the protest show two banners hung on an overpass of a major thoroughfare in the northwest of the Chinese capital, protesting against Xi’s unrelenting zero-Covid policy and authoritarian rule.
According to the report, the first banner reads “Say no to Covid test, yes to food. No to lockdown, yes to freedom. No to lies, yes to dignity. No to cultural revolution, yes to reform. No to great leader, yes to vote. Don’t be a slave, be a citizen.”
“Go on strike, remove dictator and national traitor Xi Jinping,” reads the other.
The photos and videos doing the rounds on social media platforms “show plumes of smoke billowing from the bridge, and a voice recording of the protest slogans played on the loudspeaker”, the report added.
CNN adds that while it can not independently verify the images and footage, it has geolocated them to Sitong Bridge, an overpass on Beijing’s Third Ring Road in the Haidian district.
While no protesters or banners could be seen on Sitong Bridge around 3.30 p.m. Thursday, a large number of security personnel were on the overpass and in the vicinity, the report said and added that “Security personnel were also spotted patrolling every overpass CNN drove by on the Third Ring Road.”
Though the Chinese authorities have yet to comment on the incident, discussions about the protest were heavily censored on Chinese social media.
“Some users expressed support and awe for the protest under the hashtags #Beijing and #Haidian. Others shared the Chinese pop hit “Lonely Warrior” in a veiled reference to the protester. Many of these posts were swiftly removed”, the report added.
The development came despite the Chinese authorities’ intensified crackdown on unscrupulous elements that have turned Beijing into a virtual fortress.
According to Reuters, China has hired more security personnel in the wake of the important political meeting, of which 42 guards have been assigned to keep a 24-hour watch on “key people”—a term used by authorities for troublemakers—from October 6 to October 23.
The 20th Party Congress will commence on Sunday and held for a week. The once-in-five years Party Congress is of huge significance to Xi as he is all set to be elected for an unprecedented third five-year term cementing his position as the most powerful and authoritarian Chinese leader Since Mao Zedong.