Hundreds in Harvard, New York, Chicago protest China’s anti-virus restrictions

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) — Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday at Harvard University and outside the Chinese consulates in New York and Chicago to support protesters who called on the leader of this country to resign amid tight anti-virus restrictions in Beijing’s biggest anti-government demonstrations in decades.

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

Many of those who gathered at the statue of the university’s namesake, John Harvard, wore masks — not because of COVID-19, but because they were worried that if they were recognized by Chinese authorities, their families back home would face repercussions.

Relatives could face harassment or even lose their jobs, said Wayne, a Harvard graduate student from China who participated in the demonstration, who did not want to use his full name out of concern for relatives back home.

In New York, about 400 people gathered across the street from the consulate with signs reading “Citizen’s Dignity, Freedom” and “Free China.”

In Chicago, about 200 demonstrators gathered in front of the Chinese consulate. Some chanted: “No PCR tests, we want food!” and “We don’t want a dictator, we want votes!”

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

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

She asked to be identified only as an artist because her parents are members of the Chinese Communist Party and she fears they may be arrested if she is identified.

“They would be very concerned” if they knew she was protesting, she said.

Chinese authorities are restrictive” zero-covid The strategy has led to demonstrations in at least eight mainland cities and Hong Kong. They are called the most massive protests since The 1989 student-led Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.

Some Chinese universities sent students home and police were deployed in Beijing and Shanghai to prevent further protests on Tuesday. Security forces detained an unknown number of people and increased surveillance.

There was also a protest 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 laid flowers at the statue’s base — a prominent spot in Harvard Yard usually surrounded by tourists — in honor of Last week, a fire in northwest China killed 10 peoplea death that some blame on strict anti-virus controls.

Brabibo Wang, a former Harvard student now studying neuroscience at nearby MIT, came out without a mask and played the violin to accompany the singing.

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

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


Associated Press photographer John Minchillo contributed from New York. Claire Savage, who contributed from Chicago, is an Associated Press/Reporting staff member for the American Government News Initiative. Reporting for America is a nonprofit national outreach program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover underreported issues.

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