The Chinese capital has been the subject of strict anti-epidemic measures since the beginning of May, with almost daily screening tests and strong incentives to work from home. Restaurants and other non-essential businesses are closed and many residences are placed under confinement.
Even if the metropolis of more than 20 million inhabitants has recorded only a thousand cases in recent weeks, the communist regime remains committed to its zero Covid policy, presented as a success in the face of the millions of deaths counted. in the rest of the world.
But more than 300 students, confined to their dormitories for a week, demonstrated on Sunday evening inside the Wanliu campus, one of the sites of the vast University of Peking, said several students who requested anonymity by fear of punishment.
On videos whose content has been verified by AFP, we can see the students repeating slogans and shouting at a university official.
The students had just taken down a palisade that the University had erected to prevent them from leaving their residences and ordering meals.
“Everyone was very upset when the palisade was installed,” testified Monday a student.
– “Protest tradition” –
A deputy principal of the University finally addressed the demonstrators using a megaphone, calling on them to “rejoin (their) dormitory in peace”, according to a video transmitted by a student.
University authorities then promised to allow students to join the main teaching campus and have meals delivered.
“You have to do what the government says and let yourself take all your liberties,” commented a student to AFP.
Contacted, the management of “Beida”, as Peking University is nicknamed, refused the qualifier of “demonstration”, simply evoking “students who expressed their demands”.
The prestigious university was in 1989 the cradle of the Tiananmen demonstrations for democracy, which were to end in a bloodbath on the night of June 3 to 4, 1989. As such, it remains watched like milk on the fire by the able.
“Today we have seen the protest tradition of Beida students rise from the ashes,” greeted a user on the social network Weibo, in a comment promptly censored.
– “Jokes” –
The discontent is also notable in Shanghai, the most populous city in the country, whose 25 million inhabitants have been in quarantine since the beginning of April.
Trying to restore some hope to the population, the authorities announced on Sunday a “step-by-step” reopening of businesses – a prospect that does not change anything for the millions of people still confined to their homes or in quarantine centers.
“I don’t have the slightest hope” of reopening soon, a restaurant owner told AFP on condition of anonymity. “Why do people still believe in this stuff? Since April 1, we’ve been getting jokes every day.”
After exceeding 25,000 daily cases at the end of April, Shanghai reduced its toll on Monday to less than a thousand new infections. The Chinese economic capital has also recorded nearly 600 deaths since mid-March.
Even if these figures remain minimal compared to the rest of the world, the communist regime remains faithful to its zero Covid strategy, despite its economic cost and its growing unpopularity.