Students Protest Power Outage at College in China’s Wuhan, Discontent Grows Over COVID Lockdown

By Sophia Lam
Sophia Lam
Sophia Lam
Sophia Lam joined The Epoch Times in 2021 and covers China-related topics.
September 22, 2022 Updated: September 22, 2022

A large group of students gathered at a college campus in China’s Wuhan city on Sept. 19 to protest against the school administration’s handling of a power outage. Moreover, the campus has been locked down for weeks, and students are frustrated over strict COVID measures.

The blackout affected multiple dormitory buildings, including Building 15 for freshmen and Building 16 for sophomores, according to students of the College of International Business and Economics (CIBE) of Wuhan Textile University.

The college is in the southeastern suburb of Wuhan, the capital of central Hubei Province, where COVID-19 first broke out in 2019.

The CIBE has 13,000 students, and they have been under lockdown since last month amid the recent flare-up of COVID.

The power outage occurred at 9:40 p.m. on Monday, after students finished their military training. Angry students gathered in open spaces, and some attempted to flee but were stopped by security personnel.

The protesting students chanted “Give back money!” and “Lift the lockdown!” and demanded to meet the college administrators.

There have been several protests in China this year against lockdowns, including students protesting in Beijing and Tianjin.

Epoch Times Photo
Screenshot from Chinese social media of students at Beijing Normal University protesting against COVID-19 lockdowns, in Beijing, on May 24, 2022. (The Epoch Times)

The electricity supply was cut off because the CIBE allegedly breached its contract with the local power company and stole electricity, according to an online notice issued by the power company.

Power Outage

Some dormitories had no power for over a week, Lin Xiaoya (pseudonym), a student at the CIBE, told the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times on Sept. 20.

“It has been a very hot summer; there is no air conditioning due to the power outage. But the college told us to sleep outside at night,” Lin said.

China’s southern provinces, including Hubei and Sichuan, were hit by heatwaves and drought in July and August, and this summer was hotter than in previous years.

Another student, Xiao Yong (pseudonym), told the publication: “The two dormitory buildings—No. 15 and No. 16—had a sudden blackout last night [Sept. 19]. We all dashed to the college gate and wanted to leave the campus. Some of us demanded the college to resume power supply.”

According to the online notice posted by Canglongdao Power Station, in April, the CIBE applied to increase its power capacity in order to supply electricity to four new dormitory buildings and a cafeteria. But the college began using the newly added transformer before the power company approved the application, and the college hasn’t paid for the electricity, the notice reads.

The company cut off the power supply and notified the college on Sept. 17, according to the notice.

The Epoch Times reached out to Canglongdao Power Station for comment.

Students Angry at Prolonged Lockdown

The power outage is not the only issue that has angered students at the CIBE.

“The students have been contained strictly within the campus for such a long time. The price of food and fruits on campus has risen, but no one cares,” Lin Xiaoya said. “Students are not allowed to go out, even when we are sick. Students are just fighting for their rights. The college won’t listen at all.”

Ding Li, a student from another college, said that the CIBE treats its students unfairly. “Students have been strictly kept within the campus, but the staff members and their families can go in and out of the campus freely,” he said.

Suppression

The college officials immediately suppressed the protest. Posts were banned and removed from Chinese social media platforms. The administrators were allegedly investigating and retaliating against students who have participated in the protest.

According to a screenshot circulating online, a political instructor sent a notice to a student chat group on the eve of the rally: “If the school finds out that you have participated in the protest, you will be reported and expelled.”

Political instructors in Chinese universities are in charge of the political indoctrination of students, mainly communist and socialist ideologies. The instructors communicate with students regularly to ensure they abide by the Chinese Communist Party’s political doctrine.

Zhang Yan (pseudonym), a student from another university in Wuhan, told the publication on Sept. 20 that she was appalled at the notice. She said she supports the students at the CIBE.

“The students have communicated with the college administration several times about the power outage, but it was in vain. That’s why they began to protest.”

“In the past, students were repressed by guns, but now students are threatened by expulsion,” Zhang said, comparing the students’ protest with the peaceful pro-democracy student-led demonstrations in Beijing in 1989, which the CCP quashed with military tanks and soldiers.

The Epoch Times reached out to the CIBE for comment.

Zhao Fenghua and Gu Xiaohua contributed to this report.

Sophia Lam
Sophia Lam joined The Epoch Times in 2021 and covers China-related topics.