‘White sheet’ revolution': scores of Chinese protesters in prison
In Beijing some 40 protesters are still in prison. In late November, anti-lockdown rallies also took place in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, and Wuhan. In most cases, the place of detention is unknown. China's Generation Z is less "nationalistic" or "apathetic" than previously thought.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – Scores of young Chinese, many of them women and journalists, are in prison for taking part in the “white paper” revolution, the mass rallies that pushed the Chinese government to lift Xi Jinping's draconian zero-Covid policy at the end of November.
During the unrest, students expressed their dissent by waving a blank piece of paper. In several cities, people took to the streets to protest against health restrictions and for freedom of expression; in one incident in Urumqi (Xinjiang), many people lost their lives in a fire.
Videos posted online at the time show uniformed and plainclothes police grabbing protesters in Shanghai, throwing them into buses, and carrying them away amid screams and tears.
According to information gathered by Radio Free Asia, 40 protesters are still in prison in Beijing. In the capital, the most intense protests took place on 27 November in the district of Liangmahe. The police made several arrests in the following days (well into mid-December).
In some cases no information is available about their place of detention; in other cases, people were taken to the Chaoyang detention centre.
People connected to those arrested note that family members often keep silent about the situation as a result of intimidation by the authorities.
The numbers of jailed protesters could be far higher, as protests were reported in Guangzhou (Guangdong), Chengdu (Sichuan), and Wuhan (Hubei) as well.
With their blank sheets, China's Generation Z, about 280 million born between 1995 and 2010, has issued a direct challenge to Xi's power, dealing a blow to his image as supreme leader.
For the Chinese president, this is the most critical domestic threat. Analysts note that young Chinese are not all “nationalistic netizens” or politically “apathetic”. In fact, many want more rights and greater freedom.
Xi will have to show great skills to appease a segment of the population that is now facing growing employment challenges.
This represents a shift in China from a recent trend that saw people chose to “lay flat”, i.e. adopt a minimalist approach to careers and studies, tired of the rat race, not to mention the rising costs of consumerism and housing.
For the authorities, this passive attitude represents a threat to Xi's great plans for "national renewal".
The social pact between the Communist Party of China and the people, which came with a promise of personal enrichment in exchange for political disengagement, now seems increasingly rejected by young people, who have less and less trust in the country’s leadership.
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