Two weeks have passed since Shanghai “re-opened,” but shops in the city have yet to return to normal business. Small and medium-size shop owners still have to pay the premises monthly rent even though the store has not been open. In the area of Qipu Street Clothing City, on June 13, many small business owners held a demonstration. They requested that the lease debt be withdrawn, and the rent for the shop be returned. 

On June 13, several videos were uploaded to the Internet showing a protest in Shanghai. Tenants in Qipu Road Clothing City, Shanghai, want to withdraw their lease. Qipu Road Clothing City is known as a place to shop for cheap clothes and is the largest wholesale clothing market in Shanghai.

Time News posted a video showing hundreds of people peacefully holding banners and chanting “Cancel lease,” “Cancel lease,” as they marched. People in the protest group and those around them filmed the whole way.

It was raining lightly at the time of the parade. However, the weather did not stop the small traders. Some people carried umbrellas, some people wore raincoats. 

The next video shows a large number of riot police armed with shields and equipment arriving at the scene. The police crushed the protesters to the ground.

A policeman suppressed a woman dressed in a purple raincoat, he used a shield to press her head to the ground. The other policeman stood and watched.

Another group of policemen is suppressing a man in a white shirt. One officer bent his arm backward while another pressed down on the man’s head with his knee, making the man’s face stick to the ground and unable to resist.

At the scene, there were also many police officers wearing blue uniforms. The witnesses shouted, “violent law enforcement,” and “police beat people.”

Another video shows four to five policemen suppressing a protester.

One netizen wrote: “The people of Shanghai have finally started a large-scale march! It’s a little late, but it’s already started!”

This is not the first time small business owners have protested their situation. Earlier, on March 23, affected by the pandemic, merchants in Hangzhou Sijiqing jointly requested to withdraw their leases.

Aoxi News published a video of the March protest on Twitter and wrote, “When the people have no way to live, they will fight for their lives. It is tough for traders to make ends meet, and their lease term has not yet expired, they cannot pay off the lease. Due to the epidemic lockdown, Sijiqing’s stalls have suffered serious losses in the Spring clothes, they do not sell anything and cannot afford to pay the rent.”

According to Aboluowang, On June 1, Shanghai officials announced a “re-opening” for the city, and then announced their desire to restore the economy. However, the above rally shows that Shanghai’s business resilience is still far away. Many factories in Shanghai are in a state of inactivity.

Nikkei Asia quoted one woman as saying, “How do they expect us to go on without earnings?”

She said the authorities had ordered thousands of retailers like her on Qipu Road to close their stores since March 7, to limit the local outbreak.

Some merchants say they are only allowed to operate on the condition that they do not leave the store, serving only online shoppers.

Another shop owner said, “Customers are staying away since our mall has been asked by authorities to switch to ‘silence mode,’ which means nobody can come in or leave.” 

Another area in China, Dandong city, Liaoning province, also erupted in protests on June 12. This is an area that has been closed for two months in a row. 

A video shows some residents of this area also hanging slogans, asking to cancel nucleic acid testing and resume work and production.

One netizen posted a video of the incident in Dandong and wrote: “Brave Dandong people.”
According to Nikkei Asia, the protests are unusual in China, where the Communist Party has always held a tight grip. None of the protesters wanted to be identified to avoid retaliation.

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