China is preparing for the Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to be held every five years. It is believed that in this conference, Chinese President Xi Jinping can be elected for the third consecutive term. However, before this important meeting, Xi Jinping is facing fierce opposition. The Communist Party's leadership has been criticized for putting up banners at a busy square in the capital Beijing. Images of Twitter banned in China showed smoke rising from a street on fire and a banner calling for an end to the strict "zero COVID" policy and the overthrow of the Communist Party leader and President Xi Jinping.
According to a tweet by a Beijing-based journalist, the banners carried slogans to promote the need for 'revolutionary change .'Xi Jinping was also called a 'traitor of the dictatorship' in another banner. The officials later removed the banners after the videos and pictures circulated on social media. According to a media report, the banners read, "Let us strike out of schools and work and remove dictatorial traitor Xi Jinping. We don't want a COVID test; we want food; we don't want a lockdown; we want freedom." After such reports, Internet censors in China removed such posts on social media on Thursday.
Political protests are rare in China, and police are on high alert this week for a major Communist Party convention starting Sunday. Later in the day, there were no banners on the road, but a black mark was visible on the sloping area of the road where the fire may have started. It was unclear who would have hung the banners or when they were put up. Dozens of police officers barged into the shops and surrounded the area. Many times they were also seen stopping passersby and interrogating them. Associated Press journalists were questioned three times and asked to show their identity.
Police denied anything unusual happened in the area. Three shopkeepers also denied seeing any banners, smoke or any unusual activity. Posts containing the Beijing or "Haidian hashtag" were immediately blocked on China's popular Weibo social media platform. Some posts endorsed the incident without directly mentioning it and praised the courage of the unknown person. Others said on Twitter that their accounts on WeChat, another major Chinese platform, were temporarily closed after shared photos of the incident.