‘We’ve all seen it’: Anti-Xi protests energize China’s internet | China

Chinese authorities have scrutinized discussions of a rare protest in Beijing on Thursday, days before the most important event in China’s five-year political cycle, with large banners on flyovers calling for the boycott and removal of Xi Jinping.

Photos and videos of the Sitong Bridge protest surfaced on social media on Thursday afternoon, and also showed thick smoke billowing from the Sitong Bridge on a main road in the capital’s Haidian district.

“We want food, not PCR tests. We want freedom, not lockdown. We want respect, not lies. We want reform, not Cultural Revolution. We want votes, not leaders. We want citizens, not slaves,” said one banner, while another called for school boycotts, strikes and the removal of Xi Jinping.

The photos went viral on Western social media but were quickly removed from platforms behind China’s internet “Great Firewall”. Posts containing the words “Beijing,” “Qiao,” or “Haidian” were tightly controlled, and a song with the same name as Bridge was removed from the streaming service, according to the Associated Press.

On Twitter, some users said their accounts were temporarily disabled on WeChat, another major Chinese platform, after sharing photos of the protests.

However, such a rare protest at a time of extreme political sensitivity has raised concerns.On Friday morning, a Weibo hashtag “I saw it,” people quoted without mentioning it, was viewed more than 180,000 times before it was also deleted, and some posters their account is suspended Violation of Weibo rules and regulations.

“I saw it, we all saw it,” one post said.

One user responded to a reply asking what the hashtag was referring to, saying “Go and search on Twitter, sister, if you search for a certain capital, you can find everything”.

Other commenters mentioned the Les Miserables song Did you hear the people sing? It was briefly censored in 2019 after becoming a popular protest song in Hong Kong.

Many comments refer to Mao Zedong’s famous revolutionary motto: “A single spark can start a prairie prairie.”

“#looks suddenly less anxious# when I see someone behaving like a moth to a flame and laying down their lives for justice,” one added the Maoist metaphor.

Another added: “A person trying to cover up the truth will make things worse.”

Some netizens claimed to have identified the protesters, including Chinese dissident and former CCP insider Cai Xia, who tweeted a screenshot of what she claimed was a tweet the protesters had deleted a few days ago. Others shared photos of alleged protesters on the bridge, disguised as construction helmets and shirts.

Fang Zhouzi, Chinese American science writer, said the same slogan displayed on the bridge was posted to his ResearchGate account by a man believed to be a protester a few days ago. Fang said the posts had been deleted, presumably police did after his arrest.

“It’s good to know who you are, at least not to evaporate from the world,” he said.

Such public and public protests against Mr. Xi are particularly important at best, but they come just days before the ruling Communist Party congress. Thousands of political representatives have gathered in Beijing for a week of closed-door meetings and carefully choreographed political talks that are expected to reappoint Xi Jinping for a precedent-breaking third term and further cement his power as China’s authoritarian leader. .

The actual protests appeared to be quickly quelled Thursday afternoon. Not long after the photo appeared online, there were no banners hanging on the road. According to reporters at the scene, a circular black scar can be seen on the shoulder where the fire may have occurred, and there is a large police presence.

Police entered the store and stopped pedestrians for questioning. AP reporters were questioned three times and asked to show identification. Police deny anything unusual happened in the area.

Additional reporting by Chi Huilin and the agency

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