Twitter posts are all around the platform following China protests over the weekend against the country’s harsh “zero-COVID” rules, as Chinese officials have started to repress protestors.
On Sunday, Twitter’s drastically scaled-back anti-propaganda staff had to deal with a deluge of bothersome information coming from China that, according to experts, was intended to stifle news about stunningly large-scale protests against coronavirus regulations.
At around 8 o’clock, people at the intersection of Changshu Road and Wuyuan Road read out the slogan of Sitong Bridge, and then some people read out the constitution
— 李老师不是你老师 (@whyyoutouzhele) November 27, 2022
Many Chinese-language accounts, some of which had lain inactive for months or even years, reactivated early on Sunday and began spamming the service with links to escort services and other sexual offerings along with city names. According to Washington Post’s news by Joseph Menn, spams on these accounts are the orders of the Chinese government to censor the China protests.
According to a recently fired Twitter employee, suspected government-affiliated accounts have used the tactic. By naming them in escort advertising, however, they were previously used to cast doubt on a single account or a small group.
“This is a known problem that our team was dealing with manually, aside from automations we put in place”
Former Twitter employee
What’s behind the Twitter posts of China protests?
Following a fatal apartment fire in the city of Urumqi in the northwest Xinjiang province, protests erupted on Friday. Many people think that incident was made worse by overly strict lockdowns that complicated rescue operations.
In addition to a heavy police presence on the streets, it was reported that government censors were working arduously on Monday to remove all internet evidence of the rallies, which took place in Beijing, Shanghai, and Wuhan.
Ten people died in the apartment fire, which has drawn the public’s attention, and health regulations are seen as overbearing and anti-freedom. There have, however, been broader criticisms of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his communist party. Twitter account @LibFails tweeted horrible footage of the fire incident.
The nationwide protests in China this weekend were sparked by a fire in the capital of Xinjiang where residents of an apartment building were trapped inside for months due to Covid lockdown and many burned alive ⚠️ ⚠️
— Libs of TikTok (@LibFails) November 27, 2022
The atmosphere was calm at the start of the protests. It became violent around 3 in the morning. Before approaching the second set of protestors who had brought flowers, the police began to surround the demonstrators and dispersed the first, which was more active. Getting people off the main street was the aim.
Zhao, the only name of a protester’s family, claimed that two of his acquaintances had been pepper sprayed while police had physically assaulted two others. He claimed that when he attempted to stop police from removing his friend, they stepped on his feet. He was left barefoot after misplacing his shoes during the protest.
About the protest conducted by a lone individual in Beijing, Zhao claims that protestors chanted,
“(We) do not want PCR (tests), we want freedom.”
After police pushed hundreds of others away with force just hours earlier in Shanghai, large audiences stood and watched as police began interfering with those who had gathered.
The current situation in China protests
Videos shared on social media on Sunday that managed to get past the censors are rumored to have been shot in Beijing, Guangzhou, Nanjing, and at least five other cities.
They displayed demonstrators fighting with police wearing white Covid safety suits or tearing down barricades erected to divide up neighborhoods.
According to protesters, hundreds of police in Shanghai lined up and formed clusters around the protesters to remove them from the area. The police worked several hours to disperse the demonstrators from Urumqi Road by breaking them into smaller groupings.
The cops were able to evacuate the crowd around 5 a.m. Sunday.
The unnamed protester claimed that he witnessed several individuals being dragged away and bundled into police trucks but could not identify them.
Zero Covid rules in China…
This is what happens when you don't have a 2nd Amendment ⚠️⚠️
— Libs of TikTok (@LibFails) November 27, 2022
In Beijing, the nation’s premier university, Tsinghua University, had a gathering on Sunday afternoon in front of one of the cafeterias. The witness, who wished to remain unnamed out of concern for retaliation, claimed that three young women had initially stood there with a straightforward message of condolence for the victims of the Urumqi apartment fire.
Students sang the Internationale and shouted “freedom of speech.” Twitter user @vivianwubeijing, who is really trying her best to bring news to social media, tweeted the video of students protesting.
Just come in. As a relay, at this moment hundreds of students are gathering on the campus of Tsinghua University (one of the tops in China) chanting “ freedom of expression democracy rule of law”, after dozens of such gatherings seen on campuses nationwide over past two days. pic.twitter.com/LUa4KPyqJh
— Vivian Wu (@vivianwubeijing) November 27, 2022
Journalists who reported China protests were arrested
Although it is difficult to confirm the exact number of attendees, AFP called the protests the biggest since the pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989. China is one of the few remaining nations in the world with severe “zero Covid” regulations, which frequently involve lockdowns and daily population testing.
Although the exact number is unknown, there are reports that the Chinese government detained some reporters who reported on the subject to the foreign press. One of the reporters at BBC said:
“The BBC is very concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence who was arrested and handcuffed while covering protests in Shanghai”
Beijing claimed he did not identify himself as a journalist.
We will continue to bring you new news about the protests in China.