“Good good good sure sure sure right right right yes yes yes,” someone wrote on Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter.
The post may not sound like it was written by someone in a bad mood, but on the tightly controlled Chinese internet, the seemingly positive message is one of many ways the Chinese people are displaying their defiance toward the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Chinese citizens continued their protests on the internet on Dec. 1 as the heavy police presence in Shanghai and other major Chinese cities muted the unprecedented public outburst against the Chinese regime and its harsh COVID-19 restrictions.
Over the final weekend of November, protests swept the country. From the buzzing metropolis of Shanghai to the remote county of Korla, demonstrators could be seen chanting slogans against the regime’s draconian COVID curbs and demanding freedom. The mass protests have been dubbed the “White Paper Revolution” because of the many young demonstrators holding up blank sheets of white A4 paper.
Chinese social media users tried to outmaneuver censors, racing to spread content related to the protests, which were ignored by almost all of the country’s official media.
CensorshipChinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the country’s internet via a complex, multi-layered censorship operation that blocks access to almost all foreign news and social media, and blocks topics and keywords considered politically sensitive or detrimental to the CCP’s rule. Videos of or calls to protest are usually deleted immediately.
But with high efficiency, censors move to contain comments and images of white paper.
Comments containing “white paper” that are still visible on Weibo on Dec. 1 show diverse opinions, with most of them critical of the protests. No images of a single sheet of blank paper or of people holding paper at rallies can be found.
Others published sarcastic messages with a combination of seemingly positive words, such as “good,” “right,” and “yes.”
Protest and COVID CurbsThe cat-and-mouse game between millions of Chinese internet users and the country’s gargantuan censorship machine came after an outpouring of grievance and outrage that was triggered by a deadly blaze on Nov. 24.
The fire, which killed at least 10, broke out in a high-rise apartment in Xinjiang’s Urumqi, parts of which have been under more than three months of lockdown. Many said the restrictions hampered residents’ ability to escape from the burning high-rise and delayed rescue efforts. While local officials denied the accusation, videos circulated on social media showed a spout of water from a distant fire truck falling short of the fire, sparking anger online.
The scene echoed millions of Chinese people who themselves have been sealed in their apartments for weeks, or even months, under the regime’s zero-COVID policy.
In Jinzhou, a city in the northwest province of Liaoning, officials said on Dec. 1 that it wouldn’t ease the COVID control restrictions, saying it will continue to implement the zero-COVID approach.
“It’s such a pity that we didn’t stamp out infection when we could,” reads a notice from the local authorities published on Weibo.