Beijing students protest Covid-19 restrictions
A video posted on Twitter shows students from Peking University protesting against restrictions, a sign of mounting frustration with the country’s zero-tolerance Covid-19 policy
Video shared on social media appears to show students at one of China’s top universities protesting pandemic restrictions in the country’s capital, a sign of mounting frustration with President Xi Jinping’s zero-tolerance Covid-19 policy.
A video posted on Twitter by John Alekna, an assistant professor at Peking University according to his Twitter and LinkedIn bios, purportedly showed a crowd of students gathered in a dormitory compound shouting “Same accommodation! Same rights!”
Alekna tweeted that there was “deep unhappiness” at the Wanliu compound, an apparent reference to a residential area popular with students and staff at the university, one of the most competitive colleges in China. He wrote that “students have been locked up for weeks,” adding “more walls being built brought out a crowd — the construction may have been stopped.”
In a private social media chat room for university alumni seen by Bloomberg News, members were discussing the incident on Monday, which occurred the previous night. They said students at the compound had been barred by Covid-19 restrictions from leaving the residential area, meaning they were cut off from the library, labs and social life on the main campus.
Bloomberg was unable to reach Alekna. Peking University didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday morning.
The Chinese capital has been stepping up restrictions in a bid to quell a small but persistent Covid-19 outbreak. Officials are intent on avoiding the chaos of Shanghai’s intensive, six-week lockdown which has seen pockets of unrest and pushback from residents angry at everything from food shortages to China’s policy of isolating all virus cases and the close contacts in government quarantine.
The video posted by Alekna is reminiscent of scenes in Shanghai, where clips of people protesting in housing compounds have been censored, and metal barriers have been erected to cordon off apartment buildings.
Officials last week denied Beijing would be locked down as rumours spread the move was imminent, prompting long lines to form at supermarkets at people sought to stock up on groceries. Regions of the city have been cordoned off using a virtual “fence,” that restricts access for cabs and ride-hailing services.
Peking University students have historically held key roles in important demonstrations and political movements in China. They were among the leaders of the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989, which China’s government used the military to suppress. A large number of students marched from the university to the square to call for democratic reforms, among other issues.
Bloomberg. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
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