Tanks Deployed Against Chinese Protestors

Protests erupted throughout China two weeks ago after an apartment high rise under COVID lockdown in the capital city of Xingjiang province caught fire, killing ten people. When news of the fire spread via social media, students throughout China organized wakes for the victims and other victims of China’s Zero-COVID policy.

On university campuses, students began putting up posters and spray-painting graffiti demanding freedom and remembering the victims of the fire. By the following weekend, the demonstrations over the country’s Zero-COVID policy had spread to about 20 provinces throughout China.

The situation turned violent in several cities with police clashing with protesters. That Saturday, people gathered in the city center of Shanghai to hold a candlelight vigil for the victims of the fire.

By midnight, the crowd had grown to over a thousand, with many chanting “apologize,” “Xi Jinping, step down,” and “Communist Party, step down.” Police began clearing the streets of protesters around 2:00 am. And while it began peacefully, after a while, the police started to pull people out of the crowd, drag them to police vehicles, and take them away.

Chinese authorities have responded to the protests with a heavy police presence and social media censorship. In some cities, authorities have even sent in tanks to clamp down on the demonstrations. In a chilling echo of the Tiananmen Square massacre, a column of tanks rolled into the eastern city of Xuzhou.

US-based opposition blogger Fang Shimin shared video footage of the tanks, asking “are they going to Shanghai?” Chinese authorities hoping to crack down on the demonstrations have begun making inquiries into some of the people who gathered at last weekend’s protests, with suspected protesters being ordered to provide police with a written account of their activities during the demonstrations.