Rare political protest banners removed in Chinese capital

BEIJING: Beijing authorities removed rare banners of political protest from an overpass in the Chinese capital, according to images circulated widely on social media on Thursday (Oct 13), just days before the start of a twice-in-a-decade Communist Party congress.

The banners bore several slogans, including a call for President Xi Jinping’s ouster and an end to strict COVID-19 policies, according to numerous images and videos circulated on Twitter, which is blocked in China.

Smoke could be seen emanating from the roadway above where the banners were hung in Beijing’s northwestern Haidian district, according to the images. Haidian is home to several prestigious universities.

The incident comes at a very sensitive time in the Chinese capital, with authorities on high alert in the run-up to the 20th congress of the ruling Communist Party, where Xi is expected to secure a third leadership term.

“Let us strike from schools and from work and remove the dictatorial traitor Xi Jinping,” one of the slogans read.

It is highly unusual for Xi to be specifically named in protests in China, where residents use euphemisms and oblique phrasing and images in efforts to evade censorship.

“We don’t want COVID-19 tests, we want to eat; we don’t want lockdowns, we want to be free,” another message on the red-lettered banners read.

China’s zero-COVID policy, which has led to frequent lockdowns and caused heavy economic damage, has fuelled widespread frustration in Chinese cities.

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