Rare protests against China's strict “zero-COVID” policies continued in Shanghai and Beijing on Sunday afternoon, which had spread across the country after a deadly apartment fire in the northwestern city of Urumqi on Friday.
Crowds stood and filmed as police started shoving at people who had gathered in on the same street in Shanghai where police had cleared hundreds away with force just hours before.
They shouted, “We don't want PCR tests, we want freedom!” according to a witness who did not want to be named for fear of retribution.
Since Friday people have been protesting across China, where street demonstrations are extremely rare. Public anger boiled over after 10 people died in a fire in an apartment building in Urumqi that many believe was caused by excessive lockdown measures that delayed rescue efforts.
One social media post which translates Chinese media reports into English on Twitter posted a video of the fire.
A crowdsourced list, posted on social media by the China editor of Singapore-based Initium Media, said there were demonstrations in 50 universities.
Videos posted on social media that managed to evade the censors were said to have been filmed in Nanjing in the east, Guangzhou in the south, Beijing in the north and at least five other cities.
They showed protesters tussling with police in white Covid protective suits or dismantling barricades used to seal off neighbourhoods.
Online, videos from the scenes quickly emerged. Some of the most shared videos came from Shanghai, which had borne a devastating lockdown in spring in which people struggled to secure groceries and medicines and were forcefully taken into centralised quarantine.
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