Historic protests in China: How the World Cup in Qatar angered the Chinese

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Since Sunday, November 27, protests of unprecedented scale have erupted in several major Chinese cities against the zero-covid strategy implemented since the start of the pandemic. The World Cup, which kicked off in Qatar on Sunday, November 20, crystallized anger.

It’s not for nothing that viewers in China and Qatar were televised during the World Cup without masks. The decision was taken to avoid provoking the anger of the Chinese, who have been distraught by the anti-Covid-19 restrictions.

China was one of the last countries in the world to adopt a strict “zero Covid” policy, which included repeated quarantines and almost daily PCR testing of the population. The protests that broke out this Sunday, November 27, in many of the country’s capitals, are the culmination of this popular discontent that has continued to grow in recent months in the face of health restrictions.

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videos. “Zero Covid” policy: Shanghai, Beijing, Wuhan… a wave of protests in China

An open letter on the Chinese social media site WeChat has sparked an uproar over whether China is really “on the same planet” when the soccer tournament kicks off on November 20, when the World Cup sees many spectators without masks. What angered the Chinese was that during the broadcast of the Japan-Costa Rica match, the CCTV sports channel systematically replaced every image that showed people too closely with images of the players or the stadium.

“Ji Jinping, resign!”

Censorship by Chinese authorities began this Monday, November 28, to erase all traces of the previous day’s protests on a scale unprecedented in decades.

Demonstration in Shanghai in support of Urumqi and against health policy. Ask the assembled youth “We want freedom, democracy, freedom of the press” (I’ll let the cynics appreciate this last slogan). I have never seen this in China pic.twitter.com/nTSxRre1NP

— Simon Leplatre (@SLeplatre) November 26, 2022

On Sunday, crowds of demonstrators, responding to calls on social networks to express their anger, particularly in Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan, took police off guard. “No Covid tests, we’re hungry!”, “Xi Jinping, resign! CCP (Chinese Communist Party, editor’s note), withdraw!”, “No to prison, we want freedom” were chanted in unison. Given its size in territory, the mobilization, whose total number of participants is difficult to verify, appears to be the most significant since the 1989 pro-democracy riots.

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