Over 200 people protest against free speech restrictions in central Beijing

The Yomiuri Shimbun
People hold up white paper to protest China’s zero-COVID policy on Sunday night in Beijing.

As protests against the Chinese government’s zero-COVID policy are taking place in various parts of China, central Beijing saw a highly unusual gathering condemning the communist regime’s suppression of free speech.

More than 200 residents gathered in the Chaoyang district of Beijing from Sunday night to early Monday morning, chanting: “We don’t want a blockade. We want freedom.” The district where the demonstration took place contains many foreign embassies.

Participants mourned the victims of an apartment fire on Thursday in Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which reportedly caused widespread harm because people were unable to escape due to quarantine fences.

Participants held pieces of white paper, a symbol of protest, along the main street and demanded the release of people who had been detained for joining protests in various areas. They called for freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and sang the Chinese national anthem, which begins with the call, “Stand up, you who refuse to be slaves.”

Information about the protest in Beijing spread through social media, and vehicles passing by honked their horns in sympathy. More than 50 police officers were at the scene.

An 18-year-old high school student who participated said: “I can’t stand the frequent demands for PCR tests. We need a scientific quarantine policy. I don’t want to obey [the authorities].”