Bridge Man’s Courageous Protest Against Xi Kept Hope Alive

(p. B1) A protester unfurled two banners on a highway overpass in central Beijing on Oct. 13, [2022] denouncing Xi Jinping as a “despotic traitor.” China’s censors went to great lengths to scrub the internet of any reference to the act of dissent, prohibiting all discussion and shutting down many offending social media accounts.

The slogans didn’t go away. Instead, they caught on inside and outside China, online and offline.

Encouraged by the Beijing protester’s extremely rare display of courage, young Chinese are using creative ways to spread the banners’ anti-Xi messages. They graffitied the slogans in public toilets in China. They used Apple’s AirDrop feature to send photos of the messages to fellow passengers’ iPhones in subway cars. They posted the slogans on university campuses all over the world. They organized chat groups to bond and shouted “Remove Xi Jinping” in front of Chinese embassies. This all happened while the Communist Party was convening an all-important congress in Beijing and putting forth an image of a country singularly united behind a great leader.

The aftermath of the Beijing protest “made me feel, for the first time, hopeful,” said an organizer of an Instagram account known as Citizens Daily CN, which posts photo submissions of sightings of anti-Xi messages.

. . .

(p. B4) For Kathy, a Chinese student in London, political apathy . . . is what upsets her the most.

. . .

When she saw photos of the protest in Beijing, she was awed by the “Bridge Man’s” courage, too. Then she started seeing people posting sightings of anti-Xi slogans in many parts of the world.

She started to cry and couldn’t stop for hours, she said.

As the photos of the protest posters kept coming in, she felt she saw a little light in the darkness. She’s not alone anymore.

“I thought to myself that there are many Chinese who also want freedom and democracy,” she said. “But where are you? Where can I find you? If we meet on the street, how can we recognize each other?”

For the full commentary, see:

Li Yuan. “A Brash, Lonely Protest in Beijing Surfaces an Undercurrent of Dissent.” The New York Times (Tuesday, October 25, 2022): B1 & B4.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Oct. 24, 2022, and has the title “A Lonely Protest in Beijing Inspires Young Chinese to Find Their Voice.”)

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