What Beijing fears most Xi Jinping struggles to squash unprecedented Shanghai protests

China: Shanghai sees protests against Covid-19 lockdown

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Chinese President Xi Jinping is doubling down on the brutal Covid lockdown in Shanghai despite growing anger and rare social unrest in the city. The city of 25 million has entered its third week of lockdown with millions confined to their homes and entire apartment blocks converted into quarantine centres. The BBC’s Robin Brant reported on a rare organised protest in Shanghai that was filmed and shared on social media.

The protesters held a demonstration on the streets of the city, holding up placards protesting the extreme lockdown measures.

The BBC Shanghai correspondent said: “There was an organised protest, a bold stand as the lockdown takes hold.

“In a country where you can be arrested for picking quarrels, they are angry about a local school being turned into another quarantine facility.

“Police with riot shields force them off the streets in the end.” 

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Mr Brant continued: “This was on a small scale but it’s a sign of anger and frustration as this lockdown goes on.

“Larger-scale social unrest is what the ruling Communist party fear the most and likely will tolerate the least.”

The organised protest follows similar clips earlier this week of clashes between local police and Shanghai residents.

Videos saw Chinese police forcefully dragging residents out of their flats to turn the buildings into quarantine hubs.

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In further footage, residents can be seen confronting the officers trying to approach a building.

As a woman is pushed back by one of the policemen, a scuffle breaks out as the visibly frustrated locals protest the local authorities’ latest measures.

On Friday, Shanghai reported almost 20,000 asymptomatic cases and a record 3,200 symptomatic cases.

It has recorded more than 300,000 cases since the outbreak began in March but no deaths.


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Mr Brant told the BBC that while China has officially recorded no deaths from Covid in Shanghai, there were reports of dozens of dead in hospitals across the city and evidence of widespread infections among hundreds of elderly care home patients.

This week President Xi said that China could not relax its anti-Covid measures and must stick to a principle of “people first and life first”. 

The front page of the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily said “persistence is victory”.

On Saturday, the nearby Chinese manufacturing area, the Zhengzhou Airport Economic Zone, announced a two-week lockdown.

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