China: Beijing tightens security after anti-Xi Jinping banners
Security was tightened on Friday in Beijing as was internet censorship to remove any reference to banners hostile to President Xi Jinping, hung in the capital just before a congress.
This gesture of defiance of power is very unusual in Beijing, a city usually criss-crossed by an army of security forces, volunteers and surveillance cameras.
It is even more so as the Communist Party congress approaches on Sunday, a politically sensitive event that comes with additional security measures.
On Thursday, two banners hostile to the Chinese leader and the strict restrictions of his anti-Covid policy were hung from a bridge in Beijing, according to images viral on foreign social networks but blocked in China.
“A lot of people have seen them,” these banners, a witness confirmed to AFP on condition of anonymity on Friday.
“I don’t want any trouble with the authorities,” he said, adding that the banners were quickly removed by the police.
“No Covid tests, but I want food. No Cultural Revolution, but reforms. No confinement, but freedom. No leadership, but a vote. No lies, but dignity. I don’t want to be a slave, but a citizen”, could we read on the first banner.
The second called on citizens to go on strike and drive out “the treacherous dictator Xi Jinping”.
On Friday, surveillance of bridges in Beijing was stepped up, AFP journalists noted, and a large police presence was visible near the Sitong Bridge where the slogans were displayed.
Censorship, for its part, has gone up a notch on the internet.
Searching for the keyword “Beijing” on the Weibo social network only returned results from verified accounts, instead of the usual torrent of user posts.
A hashtag (#JeLesAiVues), used briefly by Internet users, was unavailable on Friday.
China closely monitors its internet. Censors delete content that portrays state policy in a bad light or is likely to create unrest.
Many foreign media sites are also unavailable without the use of VPN-type circumvention software.
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