Protests from the Feminist Movements
Chinese Feminist Movement (女权五姐妹) in 2015
#MeToo movement in China (#🍚🐰 or #米兔) in 2018
The Chinese #MeToo movement emerged online in early 2018, shortly after it originated in the United States in 2017. Female victims posted on SNS about the sexual abuse they experienced from their male professors, colleagues, and supervisors. Although the #MeToo hashtag was quickly censored and banned online in China, Feminist activists tried to find another way to avoid the censorship. The creative term they used to substitute #Metoo is #🍚🐰, the rice-bunny emojis, pronounced as mi-tu in Chinese which has a similar pronunciation as #MeToo in English.
Among the younger generation of Chinese Feminists, the most well-known young female activists are the “Feminist Five”(女权五姐妹). They are five feminist activists in their late 20s when they were arrested in Beijing on March 6, 2015, right before March 8, International Women’s Day, for planning a protest against sexual harassment on subways and buses.
Anger against Zero-COVID Policy
Beijing Sitong Bridge Protest (北京四通桥抗议) October 13, 2022
On the morning of October 13, 2022, people who went to work as usual were astonished to see a slogan suddenly appear on the Sitong Bridge in Beijing. The slogan showed the words against President Xi Jinping’s Zero-COVID policy and called down Xi Jinping’s governance. Although the slogan had been quickly removed by the police, the words started to spread online. Posters with the same words appeared secretly in mainland China on the walls of public toilets or on the poster boards at universities. The protests also gained strong supports from overseas, especially from the Chinese students who studied aboard. All these protests finally lead to the recent anti-Zero-COVID policy protest.
The Sitong Bridge Protest was right before the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (NCCCP) from October 16 to October 22, 2022. However, after the 20th NCCCP, there was still no announcement about the lockdowns or the COVID policy in China. People suffering from the Zero-COIVD policy felt a desperate disappointment towards the government. A month later, violent conflicts erupted between workers and the police in one of Apple’s factories in Zhengzhou, China in late November 2022. Workers of the Apple factory organized strikes asking for the unpaid salaries and protested against the COVID policy. Videos about the violent conflicts between workers and the police spread on TikTok. At almost the same time, a fire broke out in a residential building in Ürümqi, Xinjiang on November 24, 2022, caused 10 deaths and 9 injuries. The reason for the tragic deaths was the lockdown in Xinjiang, where the roadway for fire engines to pass was blocked by the government due to traffic control and the COVID policy. People expressed their sorrow towards the deaths, the fear to be the next one who died from the lockdown, and the anger about the COVID policy. Right after the tragic accident, people gathered in Ürümqi, Shanghai, Nanjing, Xi’an, Wuhan, and Beijing, to mourn the victims of the Ürümqi fire. The gathering quickly turned to demonstrations and protests against the lockdown and the Zero-COVID policy campaigned by Xi Jinping.
Anti-Zero-COVID Policy Protest (白纸运动) November 25, 2022 to early December, 2022
On November 26, 2022, one female student appeared in front of a building of her university, the Communication University of China in Nanjing, holding a blank paper. She stood there for a while without moving or speaking. Then, students started to gather around her, holding blank papers, shouting, and expressing words against lockdown and the COVID policy. Holding a blank paper to protest, then, became the symbol of the movement and quickly spread. For example, in Shanghai, protesters occupied Ürümqi Road, in reference to the building fire in Ürümqi, Xinjiang, also holding blank papers. Young people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, and overseas showed their sympathies by forming local protests and holding black papers as well. More significantly, there was a strong voice from Feminist activists and ethnically minority groups among the protesters, which is one of the examples of the diversities of the social movement in the 21st century.