Urumqi: Covid lockdown protests in China break out after fire kills 10

Protests have broken out in western China after a fire killed 10 people amid nationwide unrest over the country’s strict Covid lockdown rules.

Social media posts showed people from the city of Urumqi, in the western region of Xinjiang, confronting officials and chanting “end the lockdown”.

In one clip, residents in the city are seen gathering together in front of a line of officials dressed in hazmat suits as they seemingly chant against the restrictions.

The videos appeared on Friday after a deadly fire broke out on Thursday in a city where restrictions have been in place since early August.

Despite the claims and footage on social, China’s state media agency Xinhua said the response to the fire had not been hindered by Covid restrictions, and disputed reports that residents in the tower block had been largely prevented from leaving.

 (Video Obtained via REUTERS)
(Video Obtained via REUTERS)

Despite Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy, the country has been straining with a surge in cases and reported 32,000 on Saturday.

On November 24, China reported 31,000 new cases and also recorded its first Covid death in six months earlier this week.

In the city of Zhengzhou, more than six million residents in eight districts were told to stay at home for five days, except to buy food or get medical treatment.

Businesses and residential communities from the manufacturing centre of Guangzhou in the south, to Beijing in the north, have also been placed under various forms of lockdown.

Earlier this month, protests erupted at an iPhone factory in Zhenghzhou where employees at the plant were confronted by rows of police in white protective suits with plastic riot shields, videos showed.

The factory operator, Foxconn Technology Group, earlier said it was using “closed-loop management,” which refers to employees living at their workplace with no outside contact.

It follows a walk-out last month by thousands of employees over complaints about alleged inadequate anti-virus protection and lack of help for co-workers who fell ill.