Dramatic moment Chinese protesters smash up police car over firework ban despite Beijing's attempts to crush dissent | The Sun

Dramatic moment Chinese protesters smash up police car over firework ban despite Beijing's attempts to crush dissent | The Sun

January 7, 2023

THIS is the dramatic moment Chinese protesters smashed up a police car over a firework ban.

Furious residents in China's Henan province swarmed the cop car and attacked an officer after they were told not to set off fireworks.

Footage showed chaotic scenes as crowds surrounded the vehicle, smashed up the windscreen and eventually flipped it upside down before a SWAT vehicle arrived to rescue the officer.

A group of men were seen stomping on top of the police car before destroying it and taking selfies with the vehicle.

Other footage showed protesters lunging at the officer and hitting the cop car as a large crowd swarmed the vehicle and fireworks were set off in the background.

Police said: "A few people intentionally destroyed a police car on duty, drawing spectators, resulting in chaos and causing ill impact."

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"Order was restored quickly and there were no casualties," a statement said.

Cops said eight people are being investigated on suspicion of causing disruption. Six have been arrested.

A ban on fireworks has been in place in Henan's capital of Zhengzhou since 2016 due to concerns over fire hazards and air pollution.

But many protesters wanted the rules to be relaxed this year to mark an end to three years of Covid restrictions.

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Despite the ban remaining in place, residents took to the streets to set off fireworks on New Year's Eve – prompting the authorities to go around the city with fire extinguishers to put out flames.

The government said tens of thousands of people were told not to set off fireworks and more than 50 shops selling fireworks were ordered to stop sales.

Social media users compared the incident on January 2 with unprecedented protests in China last year – which became known as the #WhitePaperRevolution.

China's zero-Covid policy involving mass lockdowns, constant testing and lengthy quarantines – stoked huge unrest on a scale not seen since the 1989 pro-democracy protests.

Online commenters made comparisons while posting videos along with the tag the #FireworkRevolution.

Professor William Hurst, the Chong Hua Professor of Chinese Development at the University of Cambridge, told Sky News: "I think this is actually a new trend that we're seeing over the last few months.

"This is something new and different.

"Somehow it seems more and more of these videos of contentious episodes have made it onto Chinese social media platforms like Douyin (known as TikTok outside China) and have remained there long enough for someone to pull videos off of Chinese social media platforms and repost them on other social media in China as well as internationally."

He added: "Either people who are posting the videos have become much more savvy about how to evade internet controls and censorship and other restrictions, or the state is actually loosening up a little bit in terms of what's allowed to be posted and how long it's allowed to stay up and what's allowed to leak internationally. It could be both."

Many videos of the unrest posted on social media have been removed.

Comments praising the crowd for protesting against the authorities appear to have been widely deleted.

It comes after China's president Xi Jinping relaxed his draconian Covid rules after weeks of historic protests last year.

In a sharp turnaround, China rolled back some of its most strict rules – including slashing the length of lockdowns and ordering pupils to return to classrooms.

Hundreds took to the streets in eight cities – including Beijing and Shanghai – after the deaths of 10 people in an apartment fire was blamed on lockdown rules.

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Protesters called for more political freedoms, with some even calling for Xi to step down.

And the nationwide outpouring of public frustration appeared to finally sway the opinion of top Communist Party officials.

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