06/26/2023, 14.44
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Lone protester goes missing after holding up a sign at Peking University against dictatorship

by John Ai

Nothing is known of the whereabouts of Zhang Sheng, a young man who carried a sign at Peking University calling for an end to one-party rule. After last year’s crackdown, political signs are back in the Chinese capital. The missing man held his protest at the same site where students gathered to demand an end to zero-COVID policies.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – A young man has gone missing after he held up a sign at Peking University calling for an end to one-party rule and saying that a revolution had begun.

One one-man protest was carried out near the campus cafeteria, at the same spot where students gathered last November to demand an end to the zero-COVID policy.

When asked about the whereabouts of the young man, Peking University refused to provide any information.

Pictures posted online last Thursday show a young man outside the student eatery, as he was being detained up and dragged away by security forces.

He was holding a sign that said: “Abandon the one-party dictatorship, embrace the multi-party system" followed by a YouTube and Twitter username, Hobbie Septem. A second sign on the ground read: “The democratic revolution begins”.

With the pictures circulating on the Internet and social media, and his sudden disappearance, many have begun to worry about his fate and personal safety.

From his social media accounts and posts in support of a democratic revolution and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, it was possible to identify him as Zhang Sheng.

After Chinese authorities cracked down on demonstrations and arrested dissenters last year, explicit political slogans and hymns to democracy and the end of one-party rule have popped up again in the capital Beijing.

Last October, just before the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China, a man called Peng Lifa unfurled banners on Sitong Bridge, not far from Beijing’s main universities, demanding an end to dictatorship and the zero-COVID policy, as well as the removal of "supreme leader" Xi Jinping.

By triggering a series of nationwide protests in 2022, anti-lockdown activists forced Chinese authorities to end its restrictive pandemic policies.

At the time, protesters held up blank (i.e. white) paper, turning it into the symbol of the protest, which was later dubbed the Blank of White Paper movement.

In anticipation of this year’s anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 4 June 1989, local authorities in Beijing removed road signs to Sitong Bridge. The bridge also no longer appears on the capital’s digital navigation map.

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