CHINA UNREST: ‘Loud bangs’ spark protest panic as Xi Jinping risks losing control
A series of loud bangs has caused protesters to run for cover in China’s Wuhan Province, as President Xi Jinping attempts to quash an unprecedented uprising.
The source of the noises is yet to be confirmed, although one Asia news outlet is reporting that “several people were killed and injured in police firing”.
Prominent Chinese social media accounts are also describing the bangs as gunshots.
The development follows reports that 10 people were killed and nine injured in a fire in Xinjiang, where it’s understood victims had spent around three months confined to the building because of strict lockdown measures.
It’s also been reported that Covid measures likely impacted the time it took for firefighters to get to the scene.
Chinese state media is largely ignoring the unrest and it’s feared reporting on the events is becoming increasingly polarized.
“Surreal” night as people reach “breaking point”
Earlier in the evening, Selina Wang, a CNN Correspondent in Beijing, noted a “surreal” feeling as a huge number of police surrounded protesters in the centre of the capital, not far from the United States embassy and other consulates.
Wang says she asked one officer whether tear gas would be used if the protesters didn’t leave and that he responded by just saying “please go home.”
“The protestors are chanting they don’t want Covid tests, they want freedom,” Wang said in a live report.
“This is the city centre. This is also where people have been urged to stay at home because the Covid outbreak is severe here.”
Wang’s camera operator then pans to a row of police offices who had surrounded the area.
“This is an extraordinary, historic moment in China,” Wang said.
“Protests are breaking out across the country-from Beijing, to elite colleges, to other major cities, and even far flung places.
“It’s shocking to hear people chanting for Xi to step down – this is people past their breaking point.”
Growing calls for Xi Jinping to stand down
At protests in Shanghai, people have begun chanting “down with the Chinese Communist Party” and “step down Xi”.
Similar scenes are being witnessed right across the country and BBC correspondent Stephen McDonnell believes it’s a significant moment in history.
“Acts of dissent are not unusual in China … but this time it’s different,” he wrote.
“There is one subject at the forefront of Chinese people’s minds, and many are increasingly fed up with it – prompting widespread pushback against the government’s zero-Covid restrictions.”
It is expected, however, that Xi Jinping will never relinquish his control over the nation and that he and the CCP will take any measure possible to end the protests.
Some believe such measures would include firing at crowds.
Xi Jinping facing eventual removal
Gordon G. Chang, the author of the ‘Coming Collapse of China’, says Xi may get through this crisis, but doesn’t expect he will cling to power long-term.
“His Maoist-type policies are creating an irreversible economic downturn and property collapse, which adds pressure for removal,” Chang said.
“Probably the CCP will go with him.
“If protests remove Xi Jinping quickly, we could get past the crisis like we did when the Soviet Union fell.
“If the crisis is a long one -my guess because he will probably deploy troops – Xi will have the time to trigger an incident to distract the Chinese people.”
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