China’s internet censors are going to great lengths to shut down any discussion of a rare public protest condemning Xi Jinping as a ” despotic traitor ” and denouncing the country’s Covid – 19 policies ahead of an all-important Communist Party congress. When a column of smoke appeared Thursday over the Si tong Bridge overpass in the Ha Indian district of Beijing, it drew attention to a protester who had hung banners bashing China’s top leader by name and criticizing the country’s ” zero COVID ” policy, including one calling for ” freedom and not lockdowns. “
The public act of defiance attracted huge attention on social media, with users sharing videos and photos of the protest. The posts were also quickly removed. Chinese censors have restricted searches about the episode on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, blocking certain hashtags, including ” Beijing, ” ” Sitong Bridge ” and ” Haidian. “
The censoring extended beyond search terms on social media with a connection to the incident. Some WeChat users said their accounts were frozen after they shared images of the bridge or sent text messages about the episode.