Xi Jinping's plan to extend reign intensifies anti-government protests

When President Xi Jinping delivered a speech at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Community Party of China. [File, Standard]

Thousands of protestors last week took to the streets protesting against President Xi Jinping's plan to extend rule.

Reports indicate that the protests coming ahead of the result of the 20th National Congress meeting show how dissatisfaction has gripped the society and especially in the wake of its draconian zero-Covid policy.

According to Geneva Daily, just before the beginning of the once-in-five-year National Congress in Beijing, people protested against the country's authoritarian system on October 13, 2022.

Authorities are already on high alert as the party congress, which occurs every five years had already started on Sunday. At the meeting, Xi is expected to coast to a third term as leader.

Few political parties worldwide could boast such a long history and uninterrupted period of state governance as the Communist Party of China (CPC), which has been China's ruling party for 72 years. Presently, Xi Jinping is the core of the CPC leadership.

Before him, generations of central collective leadership had spanned the decades with Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, and Hu Jintao as chief representatives.

Since being elected general secretary of the CPC Central Committee in November 2012, Xi has been seen as a man of determination and action, a man of profound thoughts and feelings, a man who inherited a legacy but dares to innovate, and a man who has forward-looking vision and is committed to working tirelessly.

Under his leadership, China is becoming a powerful country and is now entering an era of strength.

But thousands of users of WeChat amplified anti-Xi narratives in a freewheeling manner after a youth near a ring road bridge in Beijing burnt a tire and hung two banners from the bridge written with a demand for the removal of "dictator and traitor Xi Jinping."

The protesters called for an end to the lockdowns and said that they need to vote; "we don't want to be slaves."

China's zero-Covid policy has become one of the reasons for growing dissatisfaction in society.

Earlier, in Shanghai, to achieve the zero-Covid policy goal, thousands of people were separated from their families and children after they tested positive for Covid.

Delays in essential medical treatment and food supplies to affected families had become routine.

Further reports indicate Chinese government used its internet censor to silence dozens of bloggers, academicians, and activists, including Fang Bin, Chen Qiushi, professor Chen Zhaozhi, Chen Mei, and Cai Wei.

After the protest, eight marked police cars were parked under and around the Sitong Bridge, where the protesters openly bashed China's President and criticised their zero-Covid policy.

Crowds of plainclothes officers in black sweatpants stood to watch on the street corners.

When reporters began taking photos of the bridge, four plainclothes officers immediately ran over and ordered them to delete the photos on grounds that taking photos there was prohibited because of "special circumstances."

New York Times reported that internet censoring also extended beyond search terms on social media with a connection to the incident.

Some WeChat users said their accounts were frozen after they shared images of the bridge or sent text messages about the episode. This prompted some people to flood the customer service community page of Tencent, WeChat's parent company, on Weibo, begging that their accounts be returned.