Why China's COVID protesters hold up blank paper
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HISTORY: The rare protests erupting in Chinese cities and universities - sparked by the country's strict, ongoing COVID lockdowns - see protesters turn to an unusual symbol of defiance: holding up white sheets.
Why? Because the scraps of paper are both a symbol and a tactic to avoid arrest or violating the country's censorship laws.
Widespread protests like this one at Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University were unprecedented under President Xi Jinping, whose government has all but eliminated public displays of dissent.
The woman yells, "Stop performing oral sex for public power."
In Shanghai, these people are shouting "Down with the Communist Party" and Xi Jinping.
China's social media platforms are heavily censored, forcing citizens to play cat-and-mouse to avoid them. Online chat rooms seen by Reuters are advising protesters to bring a blank sheet of paper to a demonstration, but the hashtag "white paper exercise" has already been blocked on at least one page.
In Hong Kong, too, two years ago, protesters responded with blank paper to the city's ban on certain protest slogans, and the tactic has recently spread to Moscow during protests against the war in Ukraine.
General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party
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