Xinjiang building fire sees protest against China's zero-Covid measures, lockdown now over 100 days

This comes a day after a fire in a residential apartment killed 10 people.

Lee Wei Lin | November 26, 2022, 06:56 PM

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Residents in Urumqi, Xinjiang were reportedly seen protesting against China's zero-Covid measures on Nov. 25, according to the BBC.

This followed a deadly building fire that killed 10 people and injured several others.

The city has been locked down for over 100 days now.

Multiple videos of the protest circulated on Chinese video platform Douyin, but have since been taken down.

Douyin user 纵情随心༄༅ who posted the video above was asked in the comments section of an earlier post why the protest video is no longer available on their page.

Screenshot from 纵情随心༄༅'s Douyin

They responded, "You're asking when you already know the answer".

South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Nov. 18 that China is stepping up internet censorship from Dec. 15, 2022.

The new rules aim to "regulate posts and comments online, maintain national security and public interest, [and] protect the rights and interests of citizens".

Authorities in the city of Urumqi have denied claims that Covid-19 restrictions prevented people escaping the fire, BBC reported.

The news outlet said it was told first-hand earlier by one resident that people living in the fire-hit compound were largely prevented from leaving their homes.

That has been disputed by Chinese state media.

Urumqi authorities did issue an unusual apology hours after the fire, vowing to punish anyone who had deserted their duty.

The capital of the western Xinjiang region has been under restrictions since early August.

Apartment fire on Nov. 24 killed 10

The protest happened a day after a fire in an apartment building.

Reports from the BBC, South China Morning Post (SCMP) and Bloomberg suggested that the fire started at about 7:50pm local time, and took about three hours to extinguish.

A video originally posted on Douyin by user 咪可可快回家 -- which has since been removed -- allegedly showed what happened during the fire.

City officials sought to blame parked vehicles for stopping firefighters' access to the burning building, BBC reported.

A woman could be heard screaming: "Open the door! Open the door! Save us!"

However, it is unclear if the residents are conflating the building fire incident with lockdown measures to highlight their plight caused by Covid-19 restrictions.

Refusal to do Covid-19 swab test

The same Douyin user shared a now-viral video of her speaking to officials and refusing to do a Covid-19 swab test.

She asked an official clad in personal protective equipment (PPE) for the reason why she still has to undergo swab tests after being confined to her home "for over 100 days".

When the official told her that someone "up there" said that the tests had to be done, she responded with: "Who are you referring to? Tell me what this leader's name is and what his position is. What's his number? Ask him to release an official document."

She continued:

"Is there something wrong with me if your swab test says so? I've been locked here for 100 days. Is there nothing wrong with me if I don't do the test?

What's the characteristic of [Covid-19]? It becomes less transmissible after three to five days. You're still asking me to do [the test] after being confined for 100 days.

Am I really [Covid-19] positive just because you say so?

They tried to drag me away even when I tested negative."

During the course of the recording, which lasted close to eight minutes, she conversed with multiple officials who tried to convince her to do the test.

She ultimately did not do so.

The Wall Street Journal reported that an official, who identified himself as Ma Zhijun, deputy Communist Party chief of Urumqi could not give a direct answer to residents' questions of when the lockdown will be lifted.

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Top photos from @jenniferzeng97 on Twitter & 纵情随心༄༅ on Douyin