China has been in a tumultuous state since the coronavirus pandemic. Strict quarantine enforcement over the course of the last two years have left citizens feeling uneasy and have drawn more attention to human rights issues surrounding the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority within the country. Following an apartment fire at a Uyghur neighborhood in Urumqi, Xinjiang, China, where 10 Uyghur residents died, students gathered to hold vigils honoring the victims and protest the government. The fire’s high death count was suspected to have been in part to the strict Covid-19 restrictions that barred the victims in with the fire and slowed rescue attempts.
A popular way students have been protesting while attempting to circumvent Chinese media censorship is through the “blank paper revolution”. Videos of protestors standing in solidarity holding pieces of white A4 paper have gone viral. Criticism of the Communist party government and President Xi Jinping have been mounting alongside the sporadic bursts of activism, and experts are viewing this as a possible turning point in Chinese politics.
Written by Program Management Intern, Cindy Tse