In Search of Democracy: Contemporary Social Movements in China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan: China


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. 

Feminism Movement

Online Article/Archive about China Feminism Movements

Protests against Zero-COVID Policy

2022 Sitong Bridge Protest in Beijing

Chinese police officers block off access to a site where protesters had gathered in Shanghai on Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. Protests against China's strict "zero-COVID" policies resurfaced in Shanghai and Beijing on Sunday afternoon, continuing a round of demonstrations that have spread across the country since a deadly apartment fire in the northwestern city of Urumqi led to questions over such rigid anti-virus measures. (AP Photo)

*Details of the photos could be found on Associated Press from KU library database.

"Refuse COVID terror"

Papers with the words "Refuse COVID terror" and "Not foreign forces but internal forces" are placed on the ground near protesters during a gathering at the University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. On Tuesday, about a dozen people gathered at the University of Hong Kong, chanting against virus restrictions and holding up sheets of paper with critical slogans. Most were from the mainland, which has a separate legal system from the Chinese territory of Hong Kong, and some spectators joined in their chants. (AP Photo/Bertha Wang)

*Details of the photos could be found on Associated Press from KU library database.

White Paper

FILE - Protesters hold up blank papers and chant slogans as they march in protest in Beijing, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. In a society where everything is closely monitored and censored, the white paper is a silent protest against users not being allowed to speak. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

*Details of the photos could be found on Associated Press from KU library database.

Exile Tibetan activists hold blank white papers symbolizing government censorship in China, while shouting anti-China slogans during a protest in New Delhi, India, Friday, Dec. 2, 2022. The protest was in solidarity with the on-going "White Paper" protests against Chinese government's continued zero-COVID policies. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

*Details of the photos could be found on Associated Press from KU library database.

People hold A4 format paper on the Liberty Square in Taipei, Taiwan, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. Over 50 protesters held white papers in support of the Chinese people under harsh zero-COVID policies that prevent them from having normal lives in China. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

*Details of the photos could be found on Associated Press from KU library database.

Websites and SNS