We Are Not Foreign Hostile Forces, We Are Chinese Citizens


Editor’s Note: This article is longer than those usually published in The Student. In this case, The Student has decided to publish the entirety of this Forum piece submitted, without cutting anything for length, given its serious nature. This article contains mentions of serious topics, including suicide.

On July 2021, the only safe place for the younger generations in mainland China to discuss their shared gender and sexual identities has suddenly disappeared and been silenced—all the social media accounts and posts that contained LGBTQ+ content were frozen and shut down, with all the universities’ pride subscriptions being found “404.” 

In September 2022, a college boy who identified as homosexual had committed suicide, the reason was that he received unequal and unjust treatment from his professor who also stigmatized his sexual orientation. In October 2022, a person who put up a banner in Beijing, China asking for freedom was arrested, and no one knew what happened to him afterwards. 

Twenty seven people sitting on a bus being forced on their way to quarantine had all died in a road accident; people died because of the collapse of the quarantine hotel, died from miscarriage and heart attack because of the strict restriction policy that didn’t accept any patient other than infected with Covid-19, died from mental disorder because of the months-long-quarantine. 

In November 2022, more than 10 people’s lives were taken away in Urumqi, China because of the ambulance’s incapability of getting close enough to the building due to various barriers resulting from Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and the incapability of people running out of the apartment due to all the fences and locked gate. Not only the gate being locked, but also the emergency exit.

Is this natural or man-made calamities? 

One banner reads:

We want food, not covid test

We want life, not zero-covid policy

We want freedom, not lockdown

We want dignity, not lies

We want reform, not regression

We want elections, not dictatorship

We want to be citizens, not slaves.

You are still like us, knowing the machine will come crashing down on you without mercy. But we, the people of China, want to spread this message that speaks our minds in places without censorship and we shall meet in a place where there is no darkness.

However, I hate the fact that my parents are telling me “just get used of it,” that all the news are twisted and shut down, that all of my younger sister’s memories regarding her elementary school are doing Covid-19 tests and online classes, that no matter how hard I work I can’t get rid of my identity and origin, that “the wall” is separating me from people who I share blood relationship with.

From the poster movement & toilet revolution (the only place we could safely protest in China is in toilet) toward protests & blank paper revolution on street:

The poster movement was initiated by Chinese studying or working overseas to echo the brave banner man and to publicize criticism and anger towards the regime and zero-covid policy by putting up banners and posters in public spaces. They have to exercise such a simple form of freedom of speech outside of China because people are risking jail time doing it in China. 

After the fire took away people’s lives in Urumqi, all the news tended to shift our attention to other affairs. The local government claims that people in the building could go downstairs freely but the reality is they could not. In leaked videos from the fire scene, residents were desperately asking for the doors to be unlocked so they could get out of the apartments. They even ran to the roof to yell out “open the gate.” That’s why the death toll happened. 

Freedom of expression and protest are luxuries in China. But younger people are brave enough. People are organizing vigils to commemorate those who lost their lives and protesting against the zero-Covid policies in cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Urumqi and so on. Youths have also started mourning, memorial, and freedom protests/events from Tsinghua University, Communication University of China Nanjing, and more than 60 Chinese universities. 

They shout “liberty or death,” “freedom of speech,” “release the people they have detained,” and sang the Chinese national anthem; they hold white paper while being silent; they spread the word and reality in WeChat, Douyin (Chinese version of TikTok) and Weibo; they gather together to showcase unity.

But then what is the consequence? 

Even holding a piece of white paper in public can get people into trouble with the police. The police randomly arrest people from the protest and bring them to somewhere that nobody knows. They send plain-clothes policemen in order to better detain people who speak up. The way they arrest the citizens is inhumane, brutal, and disgusting.

On the internet, when we click into anything related to the protest, the reality or against the zero-Covid policies, it will show “404 not found,” “deleted by the author,” “unable to view” or “user not found.” The majority of people who mention politics, protests, and resentment of zero-Covid policies on WeChat have reported a violation of the WeChat policies and got some of the functions disabled. Shanghai M&G Stationery INC has also claimed to stop producing any A4 paper in any of its stores. Now, the only access platforms for all this information are Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Telegram, which are all banned for decades in China unless individuals have VPN to access. China’s censorship machine is designed to stop people seeing, reading or posting things about the ongoing demonstrations happening.

What are they afraid of? 

We, the people of China, aren’t safe. We are all people who live in the same apartment in Urumqi, but the fire hasn’t reached us yet. “Whenever I want to say something, I look down and see shackles around my neck…”

In Iran, they said “Women, Life, Liberty”

In China, we said “Citizen, Dignity, Freedom


I think, this is my duty.

Don’t pretend that life is normal.

Their “normal” is already abnormal.

What is killing us isn’t the pandemic anymore, but the zero-covid policy. They can delete all the news and information on the internet, but can’t delete people’s memories; they can erase all the scrawls on the walls in public toilets and rip posters from the wall, but can’t erase people’s anger. 

The Chinese Administration of Disease Control and Prevention published that there are 2,269 Chinese people in total who died from infectious diseases in September 2022. Amongst the number: 1,847 died from AIDS, 347 from TB, 72 from hepatitis, two from diarrhea, one from HFMD, but zero from Covid-19. 

When people in China tried to use AirDrop to anonymously spread the posters and banners, we heard the news “Apple to restrict ‘Everyone’ option in AirDrop to 10 minutes in mainland China with IOS 16.1.1.”

What do ordinary citizens yearn for?

  • “For those in Xinjiang, for all of us, we shouldn’t remain silent.”
  • “I am a CHINESE youth, a responsible CITIZEN, I’m NOT foreign hostile force!”
  • “NO PCR/covid test, we want FREEDOM! No lockdowns, we want FREEDOM!”
  • “We will NEVER forget history. We want HUMAN RIGHTS! No dictatorship, YES democracy, yes VOTES.”
  • “Stand with Uyghurs; stand with Tibet; stand with Iranians; stand with Ukraine; stand with all the people resisting dictatorship.”


“Before the campaigns, most times when I checked my phone, there was always news about zero-Covid policies, new quarantine camps being built, people being forced to leave their houses, their belongings being confiscated, their pets being brutally killed, more people dying and it breaks my heart every day. Therefore, I shouldn’t and mustn’t look the other way and try to pretend like I feel nothing, because I love my country, I love my people.

I am an International Student from China

I am a Chinese Citizen

I am a Chinese Artist

I am a Chinese Minority

I am an Overseas Chinese

BUT, I am NOT Foreign Hostile Force

As a “foreign hostile force,” I feel so ashamed and sorry for being unable to stand in the front line in protests, for not being together with my people, for being unable to shout with my people. When we truly love our country, we start the revolution not for riots, but for improvement, and for everything that an ordinary citizen should possess. Stop all the deep-rooted ideas, and stand with all these young heroes who are courageous and brave enough to rise and make their voice heard for the sake of the country. 

Facts during the pandemic last year (especially November):

  • UWC Changshu, China, as well as many other international schools in China, was visited by the National Security Agency who had injected a monitor and detector in WLAN for all the messages they send on social media.
  • Policemen in Hangzhou and Shanghai, China stopped pedestrians and forced them to unlock their phones to check if they have apps such as Twitter, Instagram, Telegram, etc. downloaded.
  • Local neighborhood committees and schools in mainland China have been reported to randomly search residents’ devices to find out if they have installed apps like Instagram and Telegram.
  • There are heavy police presence in major cities, everywhere in underground, shopping malls, parks and so on. They even use obstructions to lock down all the parks and roads in advance where protests are likely to happen.
  • Chinese TV censors shots of fans in recent World Cup encounters: instead of watching these maskless fans reacting, those following on CCTV 5 were instead treated to an extended shot of the court. They have been careful to avoid beaming images of a world largely moving on from Covid restrictions into citizens’ homes.
  • The Cyberspace Administration of China claims that liking so-called “inappropriate comments/articles/information” will risk condemnation. 
  • Chinese governments are planning to spend over 100 million RMB on mobile cabin hospitals in Beijing, Shandong Province, etc.
  • A 28-days-born baby and a 75-years-old lady were forced to do Covid-tests.
  • You will be restricted and can’t get into any building without a 24/48-hours-negative-covid-test.
  • WeChat doesn’t allow profile pictures to be entirely white since they think this is a symbol of the blank sheet paper revolution.
  • Most Chinese universities and higher education institutions have released students into winter break a month ahead of time because they are afraid of youths gathering together to protest.
  • Government workers removed and took away the road sign “Urumqi Rd” where the protest was taking place in Shanghai.

What are they afraid of? 

Even a piece of blank paper?

Brainwashing will never work, nor does censorship, dictatorship, lockdown, and repression. 

We know it. We all know it. We see it. We all see it.

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the song of angry men?

It is the music of the people

Who only wants to live!

Who only wants to go back to home, school, and work!

Do you hear the people sing?

Who will not be slaves again!

Who wants to embrace daylight and escape from hell

Please find hatchet to chop handcuffs from dictatorship finely

Please find sickle to clean up the road to freedom

Go safe our families and return home together!

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the song of angry men?

It is the music of the people

Who only wants to rise up!

Who deeply loves his/her friends, families, people, and the country!

Do you hear the people sing?

Who will not be slaves again!

Notwithstanding burning the instant brightness that one has possessed.


release all illegally arrested protesters in major cities in China, and stop the censorship on major social media in mainland China.


stop the violation by local governments against citizen rights of freedom and privacy empowered by the Constitution of P.R.C.


apologize to the society, the victims by unnecessary Covid-19 lockdowns in Urumqi, Shanghai, Zhengzhou, etc., and issue compensation to the victims’ family.

We are all Chinese citizens. In order for China to be better, we must persevere this time, and people must unite and fight for our future and ourselves to free China. We are Chinese citizens, we are not foreign hostile forces!

Don’t only open your mouth when doing Covid-19 test. If it’s dangerous to make a voice, keep silent; if you feel powerless to shine, don’t try to illuminate others. However, do not get used to the darkness; do not be proud of your temporary ease and comfort; do not ridicule those who are braver and more enthusiastic than yourself. 

If you don’t wanna walk ahead, please follow the line.

If you don’t wanna follow the line, please stand by the roadside.

If you don’t wanna stand by the roadside, please shout out online.

If you can’t do all these, please close your eyes silently.

Sit down and enjoy the rights braver people have fought and won for you.

But don’t pretend to be blind, nor biting sarcasm.

Because the sunshine and brightness we won belongs to both me and you.

To everyone who read until here, I sincerely appreciate your patience and caring. 

We are here to mourn the lives lost due to a fire in Urumqi on November 24, which was the consequence of the inhumane and ridiculous zero-covid policies in China, which could have been avoided. For months, millions of students were locked on campus, and millions of residents were locked in their houses. The most vulnerable patients were kept out of the hospitals. People in mainland China are trapped because of the brainwashes and controls they received. As an international student, I am fortunate enough to publish and speak about the truths. We are here standing with everyone in China, because: It’s My Duty.

Now, we just celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year. Although there is no more quarantine, restrictions or zero-covid policies in China, censorship and surveillance still exist, and people who joined the white paper revolution or any form of the campaign are still at risk. We’ve learned so much from the end of 2022, and noticed how the power and unity of the youths can be so overwhelming and intense.