Hundreds of people in Harvard, NYC, Chicago protest China’s actions


Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday at Harvard University and near the Chinese consulates in New York and Chicago to support protesters calling for that country’s leader to step down amid severe restrictions. strict rules about the virus during the biggest protests against the government in Beijing in decades.

About 50 protesters, mostly students at the elite Ivy League school, sang songs in both Chinese and English and chanted slogans in both languages, including “We We are not slaves, we are citizens!” “We don’t want dictatorship, we want elections!” and “Resign, Xi Jinping,” referring to the Chinese president.

Many people gathered at the statue of John Harvard’s eponymous university were wearing masks – not because of COVID-19 but concerned that if they were recognized by the Chinese government, their families back home would face with consequences.

Wayne, a Harvard graduate from China who joined the protest, who did not want to use his full name out of concern for loved ones back home, said loved ones could be harassed or even lost. job.

In New York, about 400 people gathered across the street from the consulate, holding up banners reading “Liberty Dignity Citizen” and “Free China”.

In Chicago, about 200 protesters gathered in front of the Chinese consulate. Some chanted: “We don’t want PCR tests, we want food!” and “We don’t want a dictator, we want votes!”

Protesters carried flowers, lit candles and covered their faces with banners, masks and blank sheets of paper, which Chinese protesters used as a symbol of defiance of government censorship. .

“I came because I want to do everything I can to help my people,” said a 21-year-old wearing a protective suit, referring to the suit worn by people carrying out mandatory COVID-19 tests. in China.

She asked to be identified only as a performer because her parents were members of the Communist Party of China and she was concerned that they could be arrested if her identity was revealed.

“They would be very worried” if they knew she objected, she said.

The Chinese government’s “no COVID” restriction strategy has led to protests in at least eight mainland cities and Hong Kong. They are considered the most widespread protests since the student-led Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement in 1989.

Several Chinese universities have sent students home, and police deployed forces in Beijing and Shanghai to prevent further protests on Tuesday. Security forces arrested an unspecified number of people and stepped up surveillance.

A protest was also held at Columbia University on Monday, and demonstrations in support of the Chinese people were held or planned at other US universities in the coming days.

Harvard protesters also placed flowers at the foot of the statue – a popular Harvard Yard site often surrounded by tourists – in honor of the 10 people killed in a fire in northwest China this week. before, deaths that some blamed on strict anti-virus controls.

Brabeeba Wang, a Harvard alumnus now studying neuroscience at nearby Massachusetts Institute of Technology, took off his mask and played the violin to accompany the song.

“It’s great to see people fighting for their freedom and fighting for their freedom of speech,” said Wang, who is originally from Taiwan.

He called the protesters in China “courageous” for standing up against the government.


Associated Press photographer John Minchillo contributed from New York. Claire Savage, who has contributed from Chicago, is on The Associated Press/Report crew for the America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover confidential issues.

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