“End the Lockdown” Slogans Emerge in China’s Xinjiang Following a Deadly Apartment Fire

Protests erupted in China’s far western Xinjiang province, with crowds yelling at hazmat-suited guards after a tragic fire sparked outrage over their extended COVID-19 lockdown, while countrywide infections reached a new high.
China has imposed among of the country’s longest curfews, with many of Urumqi’s 4 million citizens prevented from leaving their homes for up to 100 days. Each of the last two days, the city recorded approximately 100 additional cases.
Ten million Uyghurs live in Xinjiang. Rights organisations and Western governments have long accused Beijing of human rights violations against the predominantly Muslim ethnic minority, including forced labour in detention camps. Such assertions are categorically denied by China.
The Urumqi demonstrations came after a fire in a high-rise building there killed ten people on Thursday night.
The tenants of the building were allowed to move downstairs, according to authorities, but recordings of emergency services’ attempts, published on Chinese social media, caused many internet users to believe that people could not evacuate in time because the building was partially shut down.
Urumqi officials hastily convened a news conference early Saturday, claiming that COVID procedures had delayed escape and rescue but promising further investigation. Residents, according to one, might have escaped faster if they had a better understanding of fire safety.
According to Dali Yang, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, such a “blame-the-victim” approach will aggravate people.
Users on China’s Weibo platform described the situation as a tragedy that arose as a result of China’s steadfast adherence to its zero-COVID policy and something that might happen to anybody. Some compared it to the tragic September accident of a COVID quarantine transport.
“Isn’t there something we could think on to make some changes?”
China defends President Xi Jinping’s trademark zero-COVID policy as life-saving and crucial to keep the healthcare system from being overburdened. Officials have promised to stick with it despite rising public opposition and the growing impact on the world’s second-largest economy.
While the has recently adjusted its tactics, decreasing quarantines and adopting other targeted efforts, mounting instances have produced widespread confusion and fear in major areas, like Beijing, where many citizens are quarantined at home.
China had 34,909 daily local cases, a modest number by global standards but the third consecutive record, with illnesses spreading across many cities, triggering massive lockdowns and other restrictions on travel and activity.
On Saturday, Shanghai, China’s most populous city and financial centre, tightened testing rules for attending cultural facilities like as museums and libraries, requiring persons to submit a negative COVID test.
After temporarily reopening, Beijing’s Chaoyang Park, popular with runners and picnickers, has closed again.

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