How blank sheets of paper became a symbol of protest in China
China has seen massive protests in the past few days with the citizens taking a stand against the fresh set of COVID-19 restrictions and the resultant lockdown in the various parts of the country. While the protesters have been shouting slogans and displaying various banners against the Xi Jinping-led government, some have come up with a new tool of protest – a blank sheet of paper.
Protesters holding blank sheets of paper have gone viral on social media and that has left a lot of people confused about the symbolism behind the paper. Johnny, a 26-year-old who took part in one of the processions near the Liangma River, told CNN what the sheet of paper means for the citizens.
"The white paper represent everything we want to say but cannot say," he said.
"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."
A similar show of blank white sheets was captured at the Tsinghua University in Beijing.
While this was the first time that China has seen such protests, the origin of the blank white sheet can be traced back to Hong Kong. In 2020, protestors used the tool to avoid slogans which was banned under the new national security law which was passed by the Beijing-backed authorities.
Some Russian protesters also used the tool to show their dissent against the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The protests were sparked by the announcement of new lockdown under the government’s zero-Covid policy and the apartment fire in Urumqi which ended up killing 10 people. The city in the western part of China was going through tough lockdown and people believe that it deterred them from escaping.
Meanwhile, the stocks for the country’s top stationery chain – M&G Stationery – fell by around 3.1 per cent after reports claimed that the government can ban the nationwide sale of white sheets.