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'Bridge Man' believed to be person responsible for protest against anti-COVID restrictions in China
Beijing: Peng Lifa, also known as "Bridge Man", is revered among Chinese dissidents both inside and outside China. He acted in a show of protest against COVID restrictions in China in October last year, US-based Fox News reported.
Peng Lifa, also known as "Bridge Man" is widely believed to be the person responsible for initiating one of the greatest protests in China since the Tiananmen Square Massacre which happened in 1989, Caitlin McFall said in the Fox News report. On October 13, 2022, a man wearing orange shirt and yellow hard hat held a banner on Sitong Bridge in Beijing that said, "We want food, not COVID testing. We want reform, not the Cultural Revolution. We want freedom, not lockdowns. We want to vote, not a leader. We want dignity, not lies. We are citizens, not slaves," according to Fox News report.
The text on a separate banner reads, "Depose the traitorous dictator Xi Jinping." Xiao Qiang, a human rights activist, founder and chief editor of China Digital Times and a research scientist for UC Berkeley School of Information, said, "He didn't plan his escape at all. He was trying to buy as much time as possible to expose [the demonstration] for the public."
People immediately started taking videos and it was circulated on Twitter and YouTube, as per the news report. In a matter of minutes, the "Chinese censors" came in to delete those messages. Some have said that Peng Lifa's actions were on par with figures like "Tank Man," the person who stood in front of nearly 60 tanks on June 5, 1989, one day after the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
The massacre was caused due to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) response to student protesters raising demand for political freedoms and the measures that Chinese military took to crackdown and enforce martial law. The Chinese government has said that some 200 people were killed in the clashes. However, a British diplomatic cable released in 2017 suggested that figure was closer to 10,000.
Tank Man's identity has never been revealed. The uncertainty regarding his whereabouts has led many to believe he was arrested by the CCP or disappeared, as per the Fox News report. Peng is believed to have been taken into custody shortly after he began his protest.
The whereabouts of Peng along with the whereabouts of his wife and daughter, remain unknown. However, his demonstration worked and by November 2022, people across China began carrying blank sheets of standard A4 printing paper to showcase the silence Chinese citizens are subject to under CCP government.
The protesters started shouting slogans like "End zero-COVID," "We want human rights," and "Down with the Communist Party," according to Fox News report. Massive protests broke out across China in 2022, especially in major cities like Zhengzhou, Urumqi, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Xinjiang, and Chongqing.
Mike Gallagher, US Representative and the chairman of the House Select Committee on the CCP, said, "Peng Lifa stood up to Xi Jinping, all alone with just a piece of cloth and some paint. And he won." According to Gallagher, Peng's protest started demonstrations across China and he inspired the 'white paper' protesters who ultimately toppled China's zero-COVID lockdowns.
Gallagher termed the protests as "the most significant pro-freedom protests in China since Tiananmen Square." He stressed that there have been alarming reports about crackdown on white paper protesters across China.
Before the Bridge Man protest, Peng through his Twitter account sent a booklet or manifesto around to a handful of human rights activists and CCP dissidents, encouraging them to take further action to stand up to the Chinese government.
Xiao said, "If you read the manual, you know he had been thinking about this for years. It's not something he does in just a moment of passion," Fox News reported. The language used during the Bridge Man protest was similar to that of the manifesto that Peng sent to Xiao and others.
Xiao realized the importance of the protest and started working with his team to archive Peng's manifesto to preserve his story and stop the CCP from allowing his identity to again go missing like that of Tank Man. (ANI)