Rare anti-Xi protest in Beijing ahead of Communist Party Congress
Protesters unleashed dark smoke and unfurled a banner condemning President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Thursday, in a rare act of defiance against the ruling Chinese Communist Party amid tight security days before a key party congress, reports from the capital said.
Videos and images spread on social media showed a cloud of smoke drawing attention to anti-party banners on a highway bridge, one of which read “Depose the Traitorous Dictator Xi Jinping.”
The protest comes just before Sunday’s opening of the 20th Congress of Chinese Communist Party, a once-every-five-year event at which Xi is expected to win an unprecedented third term in office, solidifying his influence on the party and making appointments to important posts.
The Wall Street Journal quoted store owners in the vicinity of the protest near the Sitong Bridge in Beijing’s affluent Haidian district as saying police quickly arrived on the scene, near where some of China’s top technology firms and academic institutions are based.
Beijing police did not comment on the incident or on the identity of those involved. The incident came amid heightened security in the capital ahead of the congress.
One officer went door to door to ask shopkeepers about the incident, and a number of police vehicles were also stationed in the area, the Journal reported.
Three shopkeepers also denied seeing any banners, smoke or any unusual activity. One woman shook her head “no” without even looking up from her sewing machine, the AP reported.
Another banner attacked President Xi Jinping’s “zero-COVID” strategy, which has forced thousands of residents into mandatory quarantine nationwide as authorities scramble to control any small-scale spread of the virus.
“We Don’t Want Nucleic Acid Tests, We Want Food; We Want Freedom, Not Lockdowns,” the banner read.
After the protest, censors quickly rushed to remove hashtags and references to the Sitong Bridge or Haidan district. A song named ‘Sitong Bridge’ was also removed from online music platforms in China, the Journal reported.
Protests opposing the Party’s rule or attacking ladders by name are rare in China, and are met with heavy punishment.