At least one person was arrested in Beijing on Thursday in a rare display of disapproval over the leadership of President Xi Jinping. It comes just days before the Communist Party's National Congress, which only occurs every five years.
A banner was unfurled on Sitong Bridge in the Chinese capital's Haidian district, brandishing the words: "We need food, not COVID tests. We want freedom, not lockdowns," in reference to China's strict zero-COVID policy.
"We want dignity, not lies. We need reform, no cultural revolution," the white banner continued in red letters. "We want to vote, not a leader. Don't be slaves, be citizens."
'Dictator Xi Jinping' heard on a megaphone
Over a megaphone, a voice could be heard demanding: "Oust dictator Xi Jinping," according to footage circulating on social media.
Smoke was also set off at the scene of the protest, and a scorched pavement could be seen from the same location later on Thursday.
According to news agency dpa, police could also be seen taking one person into custody and loading him into a van while the banner was removed.
Shortly after the protest, the search term "Sitong Bridge" was blocked on the Chinese short message service Weibo.
The incidents come as members of the country’s ruling Communist Party gather for a twice-a-decade leadership reshuffle that begins Sunday. At the meeting, Xi is poised to tighten his grip as China's most powerful leader in decades by securing a third leadership term.
jsi/rt (dpa, Reuters)