China has exploded with rare public protests over the country’s restrictions on COVID, as record-breaking case numbers have prompted heightened lockdowns.
Protesters have stormed the streets of Beijing, as well as the western Xinjiang region, demanding the government lift its restrictions ahead of schedule.
“End the lockdown!” some shouted in the streets, according to Reuters.
Other videos show people in a plaza singing China’s national anthem, with the lyrics “Rise up, those who refuse to be slaves!”
A motivator for the public unrest was due to a fire in a high-rise building in Urumqi that killed 10 people on Thursday night.
Some residents were unable to escape in time because the building was partially locked down, due to COVID.
Urumqi’s roughly four million residents have been under some of the country’s longest lockdowns and were barred from leaving their homes for up to 100 days.
Some protesters in Beijing, who staged small-scale protests or confronted their local officials over restrictions, had success in moving their local officials to lift restrictions ahead of schedule.
China has imposed a strict zero-COVID policy under President Xi Jinping in an attempt to mitigate the virus and curb its spread.
Beijing has defended Mr. Jinping’s policies as life-saving and necessary to help prevent an overwhelmed healthcare system, with officials vowing to continue it.