Why protesters in China are holding blank sheets of paper in defiance

The act of defiance has gone beyond social media to the streets of China (AFP/Getty)
The act of defiance has gone beyond social media to the streets of China (AFP/Getty)

Protesters in China are using blank sheets of paper to show their anger at Covid-19 restrictions so they avoid censorship or arrest.

The act of defiance has gone beyond social media to the streets of China and top universities in the country.

Photos and videos online show people, including students, taking to the streets holding blank pieces of paper in the cities of Nanjing and Beijing.

They are using the silent protest tactic to avoid censorshop and arrest.

The blank paper is reported to be a statement about protesters being silenced and also to taunt authorities as they cannot be arrested for holding signs saying nothing.

China is currently enforcing tough restrictions and a zero-tolerance policy for Covid.

Recent anger was sparked after 10 people were killed in an apartment fire in Urumqi, a city in the far west of China.

People have been locked down there as long as 100 days, triggering speculation that the restrictions impeded the reisdents’ escape.

A crowd gathered in Shanghai on Saturday night to hold a vigil for the victims of the fire in Urumqi.

In videos seen by Reuters, one man said: “One day you’ll pay for everything you did today.”

People in the protest said: “The state will also have to pay the price for what it has done.”

Public dissent has mostly been eliminated in China under President Xi Jinping.

Citizens mostly share their anger on social media but they have to battle online censorship.

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Protests with blank sheets of paper have also been seen outside Tsinghua University in Beijing.

One resident of Beijing, Wang, shared his sadness at what are being referred to as “secondary disasters” due to Covid restrictions.

This includes a fatal bus crash in Guizhou which was transporting people who were in quarantine and a pregnant woman who had a miscarriage after being refused entry to a hospital in Xian.

There was also a young boy in Lanzhou who died because of gas poisoning during a lockdown.

People have taken to the internet in solidarity, sharing photos of themselves holding blank pieces of paper or posting blank white squares.