Chinese citizens protest government’s strict ‘Zero COVID’ policies

Citizens’ efforts to protest negative tests and mask use prove effective in China


Noel Celis / AFP via Getty Images / TNS

Protesters march along a street during a rally for the victims of a deadly fire as well as a protest against China’s harsh COVID-19 restrictions in Beijing on Nov. 28, 2022.

Claire Guzman, Staff Writer

Starting in November, China’s strict zero COVID-19 policies started to cause a disturbance in citizen’s lives. The push for protests and having their voices heard started to become more popular. 

Beijing residents had to show a negative COVID test to enter malls, grocery stores, airports and other public spaces. 

Citizens mainly started the protests after there was a house fire, and over 10 citizens died since they couldn’t leave. They started to hold protests to bring the policies down so similar situations wouldn’t happen again.

People started to get angry with how strict the COVID policies became and started protesting with blank sheets of paper. Usually, if people write on these papers, the Chinese government  sees it as offensive and has the people arrested. 

Protestors shouted, “We don’t want lockdowns, we want freedom,” according to the New York Times. Seeing this opportunity to go out against government policies, Chinese people are taking a chance to have their voices be heard. “Freedom of speech” is being said around the community, and the saying is gaining more popularity.

Others around the world are supporting the Chinese’s recent protests and hopes of having their voices recognized.

“China has a long history of issues when it comes to human rights and refuses to recognize the legitimate concerns of its citizens,” said Jon Niemic, a history teacher at MCHS. 

Slowly, the Chinese government started to relax the strict zero COVID policy when a more unprecedented display of civil disobedience erupted in cities across China. 

The Communist Party lowered restrictions a little by not having people take constant COVID tests and lessening mask use. The protestors have used tactics that weren’t harmful to others and didn’t get them prosecuted.

Though they avoided being taken by the police this time, “future protests may need to be more creative and use different tactics to make changes,” Niemic adds. 

Chinese citizens have been fighting the restrictions placed on them from their government for a while. Though this was only one protest that made a change, there could be a push for more in the future.