Four Chinese tell why they’re protesting Xi, zero-COVID policy

Every week, China has been rocked by protests against President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party’s extremism zero-COVID” policies, which have forced many to stay at home for months, possibly leading to the deaths of 10 people trapped in an apartment building fire on Nov. 24.

I asked friends in China — using encrypted apps that the Chinese surveillance state has declared illegal — to tell me why they are protesting the lockdowns. Here are four responses, minus the personal details that might get them arrested.

1. “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!”

“I am a software engineer from Beijing. The “zero-COVID” policy that has gone on for three years has devastated the economy and the company I work for is on the verge of collapse. I and other employees are lucky to receive one-third of our normal salary. We are all struggling to pay our bills and just to get through daily life.

The nationwide protests were sparked by this apartment building fire in Urumqi that killed 10 people, who were likely trapped due to COVID lockdown restrictions.
via Reuters

My son is suffering, too. When he is allowed to go to school, he has to take a daily COVID test and wear a mask, which harms his health and social development. During lockdowns he is forced to stay at home and take online classes, but even then the school demands daily COVID tests. My son is spending his childhood living in fear.

My family loves to travel. Before “zero-COVID” we would go on outings almost every weekend, camping in the picturesque outdoors or kayaking down a clear river. Now we can no longer travel freely, enjoying the beauty of nature, and making new friends in distant places.

During lockdowns we can’t shop in the mall down the street, or even see friends and relatives who live next door. We can’t even leave our own apartment! Life has lost all meaning.

A woman and baby sequestered in their Shanghai apartment during an October COVID lockdown.  Chinese children, say protesters, are growing up surrounded by fear.
A woman and baby sequestered in their Shanghai apartment during an October COVID lockdown. Chinese children, say protesters, are growing up surrounded by fear.
EPA

We are not afraid of COVID-19, but rather of the hell that we are now living.

We are tired of being deceived by the powerful year after year. We demand an immediate end to the wrongheaded and absurd “zero-COVID” policy.

Allow the people to enjoy all the freedoms that are guaranteed by our constitution. End the one-party dictatorship.

Give me liberty or give me death!”

Health workers in Beijing on COVID patrols;  dubbed
Health workers in Beijing on COVID patrols; dubbed “Big Whites” because of their uniforms, they have almost total control over the daily lives of most people in China.
AFP via Getty Images

2. “I Hope These Evil Days End Soon.”

“Everyone here in the southern city of Guangzhou has been given a QR code, which the authorities use to track our movements. Because my family accidentally entered an area under lockdown, this tracking app sent out a red alert.

The Big Whites [government authorities dressed in head-to-toe PPE] came to our house, told us we were not allowed to go out, and then sealed us in. All of our mobile phones were constantly monitored, and a tracking system was even installed in our house to monitor everyone in our family 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A covid blockade in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, where over 10,000 new cases were recorded in a single day last month.  Not only is
A COVID blockade in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, where over 10,000 new cases were recorded in a single day last month. Not only is “zero-COVID” severely punitive, it’s simply not working.
AP

In all, we were under lockdown for more than three weeks. Not once during this time did the authorities provide any food or other assistance. Even as we were starving, they continued to threaten us if we complained.

We don’t want to live in fear all the time. As long as the “zero-COVID” policy continues, we could be locked down at home, or even sent away to a quarantine camp, at any time. People here have not only lost their freedom, but also their livelihoods and sometimes even their lives because of the lockdowns.

I myself have lost a well-paying job as a design engineer, and have been unable to find another, all because I have not been vaccinated against the latest Omicron variant. No one is allowed to hire me. Nor am I allowed to fly on a plane or travel by high-speed rail.

At a vigil in Beijing for the fire victims of Urumqi, demonstrators held up blank paper sheets to protest China's censorship of free speech.
At a vigil in Beijing for the fire victims of Urumqi, demonstrators held up blank paper sheets to protest China’s censorship of free speech.
Reuters

I hope these evil days soon end. I want to be able to travel freely, without having to show my QR code at every restaurant, at every store, or even to cross the street. And one day, I hope to be able to speak freely, instead of anonymously, without fear of being imprisoned.”

3. “I Just Want to Live in a Normal Society.”

“I am a retired bank employee from the central province of Hubei [the original center of the pandemic]. I opposed the “zero-COVID” policy that makes it impossible to work and earn money to support your family, and the endless lockdowns that destroy people and the economy.

A protestor is arrested by police officers at a Shanghai rally in late November.  Despite some easing of covid rules, crowds still demanded that Chinese President Xi Jinping resign.
A protestor is arrested by police officers at a Shanghai rally in late November. Despite some easing of COVID rules, crowds still demanded that Chinese President Xi Jinping resign.
AP

Why can’t we manage the virus humanely and scientifically, so that we can live in freedom? I just want to live in a normal society.

4. “Three Generations of Chinese People Cannot Speak Freely”

“I am from Beijing, in the Communist-occupied part of the Republic of China on Taiwan. For more than 70 years, three generations of the Chinese people have been unable to speak freely in their own country.

We want to be free from the control of the terrorist organization that calls itself the Chinese Communist Party.

I am right now locked up in my own home in the prison state run by the CCP, the same CCP that creates viruses in its labs and releases them to destroy mankind!”

Steven W. Mosher is the president of the Population Research Institute and the author of “Bully of Asia” and “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Pandemics.”

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