Key Reasons Why Large-Scale Protests Have Erupted In China Over Its Zero-Covid Policy

Massive protests have erupted in the major cities of China over the zero-covid policy. Here are the key reasons that sparked the unusual public outcry against the Chinese government.
Key Reasons Why Large-Scale Protests Have Erupted In China Over Zero-Covid Policy
Key Reasons Why Large-Scale Protests Have Erupted In China Over Zero-Covid Policy

In a display of populist rage against the Chinese government, hundreds of people came to the streets in China's biggest cities on Sunday to protest against the nation's stringent zero-Covid policy.

The protest has extended to numerous cities, including Beijing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, and Wuhan. Hundreds of protesters and police have engaged in violent altercations in Shanghai. 

The protests flared up after a deadly apartment fire that occurred in the country's far west a few days ago. 

Key reasons behind the protests in China 

  • On Sunday, China reported a record-high number of Covid-19 cases—39,506. Xi Jinping’s government has maintained a stringent zero-Covid policy, as a result, more lockdowns have been imposed in cities around the nation as a result of the increasing number of COVID cases. The State government has justified the measure as both life-saving and essential to keep the healthcare system from becoming overburdened.


  • The public is becoming increasingly irritated with the no-tolerance, zero-Covid policy as they grow weary of sudden lockdowns, protracted quarantines, and widespread testing campaigns.


  • The protests broke out on Friday in Urumqi, the regional capital of the far western Xinjiang region, after a video of a residential building fire that claimed at least 10 lives the day before claimed that the lockdown restrictions were the reason behind the delayed rescue efforts. 
  • The resentment among the public which has reached an all-time high just over a month after Xi Jinping was elected to a third term as president of China, erupted following the fire.


  • In the various footage taken at the protest sites, chants like "down with Xi Jinping" and "lift lockdown" can be heard during what initially began as a candlelight vigil in support of the victims in Urumqi. Graffiti on university walls was also captured on camera in photos and videos; these walls have subsequently been painted over.


Protest timeline

  • A candlelight vigil for the victims of the apartment fire in Shanghai on Saturday escalated into a protest against Covid restrictions, with the protestors demanding for the lockdown to be lifted.
  • A day later, hundreds of protesters engaged in violence with police, branding the Covid policy "a game",  emphasizing that the Xinjiang apartment fire has pushed them too far and demanded fundamental human rights.
  • In the same location, protesters gathered for a march while carrying flowers and blank pieces of paper.
  • At least 1,000 protesters in two separate groups were collected along Beijing's 3rd Ring Road near the Liangma River in the wee hours of Monday and refused to disperse.
  • Students from Beijing's premier Tsinghua University also marched against the lockdowns and no-tolerance policies, waving banners featuring mathematical equations in place of slogans.

In Shanghai and other areas where there were protests, police have remained conspicuously present. As soon as videos of the rallies began to spread, authorities also blocked internet discussion of the demonstration by having words related to it removed from Weibo.

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