Posters protesting Chinese president Xi Jinping, who has been confirmed for a third term, have been popping up in countries around the world, inspired by a man who held a rare one-man protest against the Chinese president in Beijing, China.
On the afternoon of Thursday Oct. 13, the man, reportedly dressed as a construction worker, unfurled two protest banners on the Sitong Bridge in Beijing’s Haidian District, while black smoke billowed up from a fire on the bridge.
The banners read: “No COVID tests, but life. No Cultural Revolution, but reform. No lockdowns, but freedom. No rulers but elections. No lies, but dignity. No slaves, but citizens” and “Students, workers, strike. Depose the dictator and national traitor Xi Jinping.”
The demonstration came three days ahead of the start of the week-long Chinese Communist Party Congress, where Xi was confirmed for a third five-year term on Oct. 23, thus making him the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.
The banners were taken down by authorities not long after they were unfurled, an eyewitness told AFP.
The man was then reportedly detained.
The protest quickly went viral on Chinese social media, with the man becoming known as “Bridge Man”, a reference to Tank Man, the lone protester facing down tanks in the famous Tianamen Square photo.
However, posts were swiftly censored, with keywords such as “Sitong Bridge”, “Haidian” and “Beijing protester” blocked.
A censorship analyst told the BBC it was one of the strictest crackdown they had seen in years. Citizens turned to AirDrop and other file transfer services to share photos.
Photos shared on social media showed that there were police patrolling prominent bridges across the city by Friday, according to the Washington Post.
Bridge Man’s protest has inspired a movement around the world, as well as inside China, with students and activists printing posters with the slogans and pasting them across campuses and public places.
From South Korea to the UK, Taiwan to the US, here are some of the protests from around the world.