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China: after a deadly fire that killed 10, huge Covid protests break out in Xinjiang

Huge protests erupted in China’s restive Xinjiang region after a fire. People have expressed anger over strict Covid restrictions which some social media posts have said have hampered rescue efforts. China’s extremely strict “zero-Covid policy” is causing more and more public fatigue and anger.

Ten people were killed and nine injured when the fire tore through a residential building in the regional capital Urumqi on Thursday night, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Online posts circulating on Chinese and foreign social media platforms since Friday claimed that the city’s long Covid lockdowns had hampered rescue attempts.

Residents of Urumqi have appeared in videos on social media to take to the streets to protest Covid measures.

Protest in Xinjiang

China is the latest major economy married to a zero Covid strategy, with authorities enforcing instant lockdowns, long quarantines and mass testing to snuff out new outbreaks as they emerge.

Footage partially verified by AFP shows hundreds of people crowding outside Urumqi city government offices overnight, chanting, “Remove the lockdowns!”

In another clip, dozens of people march through a neighborhood in the east of the city, shouting the same slogan before confronting a line of hazmat-clad officials and angrily berating security personnel.

AFP journalists were able to verify the videos by geotagging local landmarks, but were unable to specify when exactly the protests took place.

(With agency contributions)

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Post expires at 2:28pm on Monday December 5th, 2022