© Reuters A man holding an umbrella and holding a slogan takes part in an anti-Chinese government protest against China’s “zero-covid” policy near the Chinese consulate in New York City on November 29, 2022. Delgado
By Anna Mehler Pepperney and Jessie Pang
TORONTO/HONG KONG (Reuters) – From Sydney to Toronto, major Chinese protests have intensified this week, turning to calls for an end to the world’s strictest COVID-19 restrictions and for President Xi Jinping to step down. .
Overseas Chinese and their supporters marched in Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York and Toronto, and more protests are planned in the coming days.
On Tuesday, about 30 people in Toronto chanted “China Free.” Xi Jinping resigned.
At Harvard University in Massachusetts, dozens chanted “No more lies” and “No more censorship.”
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the Chinese consulate in New York, some waving blank white cards as a sign of protest against China.
Many chanted slogans in Mandarin, criticizing China’s record of human rights and the devastating impact of its zero-covid policy on the economy and people’s freedoms.
Some declined to give their names, fearing that their relatives in China might be harassed by the authorities.
Anger at home and abroad grew after authorities reported 10 people dead in a fire in the Xinjiang region, with many people online blaming stricter COVID laws, which they said trapped residents in buildings.
Authorities denied this.
Spot lockdowns and repeated virus tests for hundreds of millions have sparked anger among Chinese on the mainland and overseas.
In Sydney, about 200 people gathered at City Hall for a candlelight vigil on Monday, police said.
Democracy activist Chen Yongli posted on social media that about 50 Mainland Chinese students attended the largest protest in Australia by Mainland Chinese.
Most of the students covered their faces with masks and hats and declined to give their names. Many said they believed that a Chinese embassy official would attend the event.
In the year “They try to find out who the organizers are,” said Chen, a Chinese consular official who defected in 2005.
The Chinese Embassy in Australia and the Education Bureau of the Chinese Consulate in Sydney did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
As protests flared abroad, the situation on Chinese soil also escalated, with people in the southern manufacturing hub of Guangzhou clashing with riot police in white hazmat suits on Tuesday night.
Social media played an important role in spreading news of the protests and spreading the debate, with thousands of protesters at home and abroad flocking to the audio-based networking app Clubhouse to share their thoughts.
Clubhouse host Lucia, who has 1,800 followers based in Switzerland, told Reuters: “The boundaries of my fear are no longer the same. I used to be afraid of not being seen and heard, but now I hope to be seen and heard!”
Nebar, a 24-year-old fintech worker in Hong Kong, from China, was surprised to find a flyer she helped deliver to victims of the Xinjiang fire spread on social media.
She told Reuters she initially shared the leaflet with only about 10 friends, asking them to gather in central Hong Kong on Monday night.
“I don’t know how it was spread, and I didn’t organize it on purpose. But it showed that everyone already thinks the same thing… there is no need to provoke,” said Tiger. “A single spark can start a prairie fire.”