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Semafor LogoJ.D. Capelouto
newsEast Asia

How the Chinese diaspora is reacting to the zero-COVID protests

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Title iconThe News

Members of the Chinese diaspora community across the world organized demonstrations in solidarity with protesters in mainland China who are pushing back against the country's zero-COVID policies.

People hold white sheets of paper and flowers at a protest in Hong Kong.
REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
Title iconStep Back

The rare protests erupted after 10 people were killed in an apartment fire in the western region of Xinjiang, and videos appeared to show firefighters blocked from reaching the complex because of strict COVID-19 restrictions.

Title iconThe View From London

Videos showed hundreds protesting outside the Chinese embassy in London on Sunday, calling on China's leader Xi Jinping to step down.

Title iconThe View From Brisbane

Some students protesting in the Australian city held up blank pages of paper as part of the "A4 Revolution" which saw protesters in China carrying empty pages to signify the silencing of free speech and dissent.

Title iconThe View From Paris

Protesters gathered outside the Centre Pompidou in Paris, France, and some placed flowers and candles to mourn the victims of the Xinjiang fire.

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Title iconThe View From Toronto

On a cold and rainy Sunday night outside the Chinese Consulate in Canada's largest city, a big crowd held a vigil for the victims of the fire and chanted "Liberty or die," video showed.

Title iconThe View From Hong Kong

In Hong Kong — where protests have been scant since a new national security law was enacted in 2020 — video showed students on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong holding up blank paper and chanting in support of the protesters in China. A vigil was also reportedly held near Hong Kong's central business district.

Title iconThe View From Taipei

Zhou Fengsuo, who was imprisoned for helping lead the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, told The Washington Post that he was one of about 200 people who gathered in Taiwan's capital on Sunday for a vigil for the fire's victims as well as to show solidarity with protesters.

Zhou said China's Community Party "leaves no room for people’s freedom and their basic political rights," adding, "It’s the zero-covid policy that puts people in jail in their own homes."

Title iconThe View From Pro-China organizations

China Daily and Global Times, which are both English-language mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party covering international issues, did not have coverage of the protests on their homepages Monday.

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China Daily reported on the government's claims that COVID-19 measures did not affect the response to the fire in Urumqi, the Xinjiang capital. Global Times featured a story stating that Urumqi is stepping up the "resumption of normal life."

Groups like the Qiao Collective, which describes itself as a "diaspora Chinese media collective challenging imperialism," defended China's COVID policies and criticized Western media's coverage of the protests.

Other Chinese pundits have reportedly framed the protests as driven by "external forces."

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