“And,” he added, “for the deceased.”
A protest also broke out in another city in Xinjiang: Korla, in the region’s north. Hundreds of residents assembled at the prefecture’s government office, as seen in video footage that appeared online on Saturday evening.
“Lift the lockdown,” they shouted.
The Xinjiang region has been under intense security controls for years as part of the government’s long clampdown on Uyghurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group. But many protesters in Korla seemed to be members of China’s Han ethnic majority, to judge by their accents and appearance, as were many protesters in Urumqi, the regional capital.
During the night, an official came out and promised the crowd in Korla that lockdowns would be eased, prompting applause and shouts of welcome.
But before the latest demonstrations, the Xinjiang government had been warning residents that strict Covid measures remained necessary, and the security authorities there and elsewhere across China are also likely now to tighten monitoring and security in an effort to prevent further unrest.
“The pandemic risks have not been thoroughly eradicated, and the chains of transmission have not been totally broken, so the slightest relaxation may bring a rebound,” the Xinjiang leadership announced on Saturday. Officials, it said, must “sternly attack concocting and spreading rumors, inciting incidents, violently resisting pandemic control measures and other criminal conduct.”
In Shanghai, many neighborhoods have begun demanding that residents do frequent, often time-consuming Covid nucleic acid tests again — only days after announcing that tests would be seldom needed going forward. In that city, which endured a grueling two-month lockdown earlier this year in an effort to stamp out a Covid outbreak, the deadly fire in Urumqi appeared to reignite public anger over that episode.