On Monday, June 13, many people took to the street in front of shopping stores in Shanghai’s most renowned wholesale center to protest rent refunds. 

Marching on Qipu Road, they were clothing traders whose businesses were impaired by the metropolis’ zero-COVID policy. With continuous shutdown orders, they were still subjected to renting obligations. 

Holding boards and banners, they shouted for rent relief. Placards of some retailers read, or, “No rent return, no open doors.”

The merchants were expecting a six-month rent waiver, which is a privilege reserved for state-owned companies only.

Despite officially lifting the citywide lockdown, Shanghainese and businesses are still subjected to strict pandemic restrictions. This includes compound lockdown, centralized quarantine, limited business operations, and regular PCR tests.

According to Nikkei Asia, some shopkeepers said they were only allowed to function if they did not leave their stores and exclusively served internet customers.

One retailer 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.”

The demonstration initially saw some police officers calmly watching the crowd without any apparent intention to stop them.

But in follow-up updates on the internet. It was clear they weren’t simply there just to observe.

Several demonstrators were recorded lying on the ground, surrounded by armed officers. One person had his hands up, indicating surrender. A police offer was also seen pressing a woman in a purple raincoat down with his shield. In the background, onlookers were heard shouting phrases such as violent law enforcement, police beating people, etc.

Nikkei Asia reported that the law enforcement took some protesters away after refusing orders to disperse.

Qipu wholesale market is Shanghai’s largest and most prosperous clothing wholesale market.

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