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Videos: Chinese riots break out in cities; demand Xi, CCP resign over COVID lockdowns, chanting freedom and more

Rioters in Guangzhou, China throw barricades at Chinese police. (Screenshot)
November 28, 2022

Protests and riots sprung up across cities China in recent days as people are reportedly demanding an end to the country’s strict COVID-19 lockdown measures and even calling for Xi Jinping and other leaders of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to resign. These demonstrations against CCP rule and the strict COVID-19 restrictions come as a potential challenge to Xi’s consolidation of power in China’s campaign to overtake the U.S. as the dominant world power.

U.S. conservative political commentator Jack Posobiec shared a video purporting to show the doors of the apartment building were wired shut.

“Families in a hi-rise in China were locked into their apartments as their building caught fire. Urumqi, in Xinjiang Province,” Posobiec tweeted. “They burned alive as they couldn’t escape and no one could get to them in time. This is directly on the CCP and Xi’s Zero-Covid lockdown strategy.”

The BBC reported protests began in the northwest Chinese city of Urumqi after 10 people died in a fire at an apartment building. The BBC reported people had struggled to escape because they were locked inside their homes as part of the strict COVID-19 lockdown measures.

The Chinese state-run Global Times reported local government officials had denied the claims that doors in the Urumqi apartment building were locked. The state-run CGTN news outlet reported local authorities had vowed to investigate the apartment fire and “hold those suspected of dereliction of duty accountable.”

Following the apartment building fire, additional videos began to appear online, purporting to show people clashing with Chinese authorities in Xinjiang.

One Twitter user said, “The CCP is going to have to crack down hard in order to survive, similar to the Tiananmen square massacre in 1989. These videos are happening all over China. Police arrest residents in China’s Xinjiang province. They smash this guys cellphone for recording.”

On the other side of China, in the eastern coastal city of Shanghai, more protests and riots had reportedly broken out.

“Protesters in Shanghai shouting ‘step down CCP, step down Xi Jinping.’ Apparently there’s a lot of anger over the fire in Urumqi,” one Twitter user said.

“I’ve lived in China for 30 years, and I’ve never seen such a brazenly open and sustained expression of rage against the PRC govt,” one Twitter user said, adding that the Chinese social media site WeChat “is exploding with protest videos and furious vitriol, and civil disobedience is becoming rampant. This is a serious test of CCP governance.”

Emily Feng, a journalist in China for NPR, tweeted a video of protests Shanghai and tweeted, “Seemingly spontaneous protest converging again at Urumqi Road in Shanghai, despite heavy police presence. People are shouting ‘let them go 放人!’ Apparently in reference to those arrested at previous protests.”

Protests and have also been reported in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu.

Protests have also spread to the Chinese capitol city of Beijing.

David Rennie, a columnist and Beijing bureau chief for The Economist tweeted, “130am in Beijing. Still going. Cries of ‘we want freedom, we want human rights.'”

Another Twitter user alleged that Chinese government authorities have been using a COVID passport app system against protesters, marking those protesters for quarantine in the app system. The Twitter same user also showed video footage purporting to show factory workers at an unspecified location in China fighting with police and throwing barricades at officers.

Another video, reportedly taken in Guangzhou, also showed a riot where people were throwing barricades at Chinese authorities. It is not immediately clear if this video is from the same event as the one involving factory workers.

It is not immediately clear what percentage of the Chinese population is joining in these protests and riots, in a country of approximately 1.4 billion people.

The protests come just weeks after Chinese president and CCP leader Xi Jinping was selected by a CCP party congress to a third term as the party’s leader. Xi’s third term as the CCP party leader paves the way for him to take on a third term as president of China. China had a two-term limit for its presidency, but Xi helped scrap that limit in 2018. With that limit gone, Xi could potentially rule indefinitely.

During that same CCP party congress, Xi touted his strict “COVID Zero” lockdown policies and avoided acknowledging any economic or social costs from the strict measures. In September, the Financial Times reported China’s economic growth had fallen behind that of the rest of Asia for the first time since 1990, in large part due to it’s strict lockdown measures.