After 10 people died in an apartment fire, strict COVID lockdown restrictions and massive protests broke out in China’s Xinjiang Province.
Local authorities reported that nine more people were hurt in an apartment fire in Xinjiang‘s capital Urumqi, on Thursday night.
Xinjiang is home to China’s persecuted Uyghur minorities. There have been reports of people starving earlier this year.
Many of the capital’s four million residents are unable to leave their homes over the past 100 days, as Beijing continues its “dynamic zero ” policy.
People took to the streets to protest the “end of lockdown” blaze that spread from the 15th floor to the 21st.
Chinese social media platforms showed people shouting at officials wearing hazmat suits, and singing a line from the national anthem.
Local officials held an informal news conference Friday to deny that rescue efforts at the apartment block were hindered by a part of the building being under strict control.
They claimed that people were instructed to go to the ground level and promised to investigate.
Social media videos showed an arc of water coming from a distant firetruck, but it fell short of the fire. This video sparked angry comments and rage online.
Some claimed that fire engines were blocked by pandemic control barriers, or cars stranded after their owners had been placed in quarantine. However, the reason the truck was so far away is not clear.
Shanghai and Beijing are subject to new restrictions
Recent weeks have seen the Chinese government announce that it is lifting strict COVID restrictions throughout the country.
These measures include reducing quarantine periods and making lockdowns less localized.
Both Beijing and Shanghai have tightened their requirements for entry to public places, insisting on negative COVID testing within the last 48 hours.
Many argue that these lockdowns are effective and officials may pretend to relax rules to ease tensions.
Beijing “effectively under lockdown”
The Chinese epicentre is where the lockdown frustration has grown.
Another part of the country saw mass walkouts at the largest iPhone factory in fear of being quarantined.
Despite internal turmoil and damage to the global and domestic economies, President Xi Jinping’s administration is still committed to the zero COVID policy.