The Washington PostThe Washington Post

A new generation of Chinese dissenters might be rising to challenge Xi

04 Dec 2022 · 4 min read

The protesters who gathered in Shanghai on the evening of Nov. 26 were mostly in their 20s, born after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. Their street chants were daring. “Xi Jinping!” a man in the crowd repeatedly shouted, naming China’s leader. “Step down!” came the reply. This is not normal for China, and it could be a glimpse of a rising generation of dissenters willing to test the limits of China’s mighty police state. They face daunting obstacles

Protest in China unfolds almost every day: Workers, farmers, students and city dwellers have marched and shouted. Online fury breaks out, too, before it is quieted by censors. Yet the latest demonstrations saw both across multiple cities as anger boiled over at Mr. Xi’s “zero covid” policy and its draconian lockdowns. Moreover, the demonstrations took on a political edge that went beyond just covid-19. A student in Beijing, speaking out against China’s stripping away of individual rights, stepped in front of a crowd and said, “We hope tomorrow’s China doesn’t become today’s North Korea.” Others held up sheets of blank white paper to protest China’s ubiquitous censorship.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content