China censors anti-Xi protest after banner of 'remove the dictator' appears

China's internet censors removed virtually all references to reports of a rare protest involving banners denouncing President Xi Jinping and the country's Covid policies

AgenciesUpdated: Friday, October 14, 2022, 06:01 PM IST
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Just days before the opening of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a rare broke out at Sitong Bridge, Haidian District, Beijing on Thursday, which aroused great concern within China and the international community, DW reported.

According to an AFP report, following the protest in the capital,

China's internet censors removed virtually all references to reports of a rare protest involving banners denouncing President Xi Jinping and the country's Covid policies.

Meanwhile, Beijing has been put on high alert against any disruption to a landmark Communist Party meeting that begins Sunday, where Xi is expected to secure a historic third term.

"China Digital Times", a media specializing in China's online censorship, pointed out that China's online censorship mechanism started censoring keywords such as "Sitongqiao", "Beijing Banner" and "Haidian" on the social media platform Weibo immediately after the incident.

Video footage and photos have been making rounds on social media platforms showing defiant protesters carrying banners with slogans criticising the Communist Party's policies on the side of a bridge in Beijing.

"No Covid tests, I want to make a living. No Cultural Revolution, I want reforms. No lockdowns, I want freedom. No leaders, I want to vote. No lies, I want dignity. I won't be a slave, I'll be a citizen," one banner read.

The other banner called on citizens to go on strike and remove "the traitorous dictator Xi Jinping".

Following the protests, the Chinese authorities immediately launched an online censorship mechanism to strengthen stability.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party under Xi has increased surveillance, tightened control over speech and media and cracked down further on dissent, censoring even mildly critical views and jailing those it believes went too far.

Reportedly, authorities have detained an estimated million or more members of predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in China's Xinjiang region in a harsh anti-extremism campaign that has been labelled genocide by the US.

In Hong Kong, Xi's government responded to massive protests with a tough national security law that has eliminated political opposition and altered the once-freewheeling nature of the city.

Xi is facing a challenge to his government's harsh "zero-COVID" policies, which have taken an economic and human toll. Small groups of residents staged protests during a two-month lockdown in Shanghai earlier this year.

In a rare political protest, someone hung banners from an elevated highway in Beijing this week calling for freedom, not lockdowns, and worker and student strikes to force Xi out. They were quickly removed, police deployed and any mention of the incident speedily wiped from the internet.

Xi is all but certain to be given a third five-year term as party leader at the end of a major party congress that opens Sunday - a break with an unofficial two-term limit that other recent leaders had followed. What's not clear is how long he will remain in power, and what that means for China and the world.

Xi was thrust into the national leadership in 2007. That's when he joined the all-powerful Standing Committee of the Communist Party's Politburo, a prelude to being named to the top position at the next congress in 2012.

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