Furious Chinese Protesters Are Using Blank Sheets of Paper to Stick It to Their Government

As rare mass protests over new COVID-19 lockdown restrictions erupt across China, citizens of the communist nation are getting creative with their protest symbols and signage.

According to Reuters, student protesters at several universities throughout China are holding up blank pieces of paper in mass, silent protest. The tactic reportedly mitigates the chances of a protester being hauled off to jail while still presenting a powerful form of dissent.

“The white paper represent everything we want to say but cannot say,” a person called Johnny told Reuters. “I came here to pay respects to the victims of the fire I really hope we can see an end to all of these COVID measures. We want to live a normal life again. We want to have dignity.”

Reuters noted that a man could be heard rebuking a large crowd for protesting in one video.

“One day you’ll pay for everything you did today,” the man reportedly said.

In response, the angry protesters shouted, “The state will also have to pay the price for what it has done.”

The fire was a reference to a tragic scene that unfolded in the western China city of Urumqi, where an apartment fire claimed the lives of at least 10 people. It was reported that some people in Urumqi had been locked down for 100 days. Many believe such long-term lockdowns might have played a role in preventing apartment residents from escaping, which sparked a new round of protests.

Users on WeChat and Weibo, two of China’s most popular social media platforms, showed solidarity with the protesters by uploading pictures of blank sheets of paper to their profiles.

“If you fear a blank sheet of paper, you are weak inside,” one Weibo user reportedly wrote.

Though Twitter is banned by China’s Communist Party, protesters routinely find ways to circumvent the blocks to publish video footage of what’s happening on the ground.

The protests, which have been building over recent weeks, seem to be hitting a fever pitch as COVID-19 case counts spike to record highs. China has adopted a “zero-COVID” approach to gaining control over the spread of the virus, which usually means intense, long-term lockdown periods for Chinese citizens.

Protesters are also deploying clever memes and math equations to protest the Chinese government’s new wave of lockdowns. According to The New York Times, one of the more popular protest signs involves a math equation from Russian physicist Alexander Friedmann, whose last name translates to “free man” in Chinese.

However, the protests in China have been far from quiet, as citizens have clashed with Chinese police officers on several occasions over the past week as anger over the lockdowns continues to grow.

Most recently, video footage emerged of BBC reporter Edward Lawrence being “beaten and kicked” by Chinese police for covering the protests in Shanghai.

According to a separate Reuters report on Monday morning, Chinese police are stepping up their presence to dissuade new protests from erupting. Police are reportedly now checking the phones of Chinese citizens to see if they’re using virtual private networks (VPNs) to circumvent restricted platforms like Twitter. VPN usage is illegal for most Chinese citizens.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.