Tianjin University Students Rally to Protest Covid Lockdown, Chanting ‘Down With Bureaucracy’

Tianjin University Students Rally to Protest Covid Lockdown, Chanting ‘Down With Bureaucracy’
Tianjin University students protest on campus on May 26, 2022. (Screenshot via The Epoch Times)
Sophia Lam

Massive student protests broke out in China’s major northern port city of Tianjin on May 26, opposing the harsh lockdown restrictions imposed by the authorities.

Online videos showed hundreds of students rallied in Tianjin University’s Beiyang Square in the evening, chanting “Down with formalism! Down with bureaucracy!” They asked for direct dialogue with the university management regarding their demands.

Tianjin imposed stringent closure measures on local universities in January when a new wave of COVID-19 broke out. Tianjin University has been under lockdown since January 8, confining students to their dorms, and not allowing them to go home during the winter vacation.

Tianjin University was founded in 1895 and is one of China’s earliest western-style universities. Currently, it has 33,159 full-time students living on its campuses.

The protests erupted when the city’s Nankai District, where Tianjin University is located, announced “static management” on May 26, meaning residents are barred from leaving their homes, and public transportation and businesses are shut down.

Frustrated students have complained about the soaring prices on campus and not being able to return to their hometowns. One online poster, with the hashtag TJU (Tianjin University), called on the school management to “let me go home” and encouraged students to “be united.” The student put forward five demands, including letting the students go home to take online courses and come back to school to sit the exams, giving a clear time and method for final exams, giving a clear time for students to go home, solving students’ difficulties in a practical way, and not punishing students afterward.

Online videos showed many police motorcycles and automobiles driving toward the university. The Epoch Times is not able to verify the authenticity of the footage.

A Tianjin resident told the Chinese-language edition of the NTDTV (our sister media) on May 27 that he “could imagine what has happened there [on the campus of Tianjin University],” but that he “dared not say anything.”

“We don’t have an atmosphere where we can express freely. If I say something [about what happened], even if I think it’s okay, I may be charged with the crime of picking quarrels and provoking trouble or spreading rumors, or something that is deemed to violate China’s laws, and I'll be arrested,” the resident, using an alias of Mr. Wang for safety, said in an NTD interview.

The student protests in Tianjian followed massive protests in China’s capital Beijing. Students at the China University of Political Science and Law and Beijing Normal University protested on May 23 and 24, respectively, with similar demands.

The massive protests in Beijing and Tianjin occurred before a sensitive date—the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre that occurred on June 4, 1989, when students gathered on China’s iconic square, demanding democracy. But the regime sent in the military to stop the peaceful protest with tanks and rifles. The number of dead and injured is still unknown.

The Epoch Times reached out to Tianjin University but has not received any reply before publication.

Li Jing and Gu Xiaohua contributed to the report.