to the death of 10 people recently in an apartment fire. And even though China has a zero–
Covid policy with extremely tough regulations, Covid–19 infections are higher than ever.
The citizens are not taking this latest fire lightly, breaking down barriers, confronting
officials, and chanting “end the Covid lockdown.” For their part, authorities in Urumqi have
said they will begin phasing out the restrictions but deny that they contributed to the death
of the people trying to escape from the fire.
Urumqi is the capital of the western Xinjiang region and the heavy restrictions have been in
place there since early August. In the wake of the fire, one resident told the BBC that people
living in the compound where the fire broke out had been prevented from leaving their
homes. At first Chinese state media denied the allegations, but then issued an unusual
statement of apology, saying that anyone who had deserted their duty would be punished.
This begs the question of whether China and their lockdown tactics bear some responsibility
for the deaths.
The demonstrations of citizens included shouting, breaking down police barriers, and
arguing with officials. Although there were many videos of the Urumqi protests, with the
heavy censorship in China they were quickly taken down. Suffice it to say, the populace is
losing their patience for the many months of lockdowns.
The blaze that killed 10 also injured 9 and was supposedly caused by a fault with an
electrical extension. Protestors say Covid lockdowns hindered the efforts of the firefighters,
though city officials say it was parked vehicles that hampered the firefighters from getting to
In addition to the protests in Urumqi, cities such as Xi’an, Chongqing, and Nanjing, as well
the neighborhoods surrounding many universities, are experiencing protests. Citizens are
growing tired of the zero–Covid strategy that China has employed as a remedy for their
relatively low vaccination levels as they strive to protect the elderly. This region is also
home to many human rights abuses against Uyghurs, though officials deny that.
According to Adnan Zai, Advisor to Berkeley Capital, “The issue which China faces more
than any other country is its larger than normal population compared to other countries.
That, coupled with people’s lack of faith in their government, creates civil unrest currently being exercised.”
unrest after the recent fire in Urumqi and the death of its citizens. The Covid lockdowns are
getting old, and the populace long known for going along with the government is getting more
restless. With so many people and so much at stake, the officials will need to lift restrictions
before the protestors get more vocal and dangerous.