Due to China's harsh control of information and isolation, the verification of protester numbers has been challenging.
China protests 'transformative,' European Parliament lawmaker tells DW
Reinhard Bütikofer, lawmaker for the German Greens and chairman of the European Parliament's delegation for relations with China, told DW that ongoing protests are different than anything seen in the past few decades.
Previous instances of opposing the regime "have been localized and single-issue," Bütikofer said. This is the "first time … in decades" China has seen nationwide protests with participants from different backgrounds, according to Bütikofer.
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"I think that is having a transformative effect on the relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed."
With EU council president Charles Michel visiting China, Bütikofer said Michel "should also make it very clear that we are observing very intently what they [are doing in the crackdown on protesters]," he said.
Protesters angry over endless lockdowns
Anger over China's Covid-19 lockdowns, which subsequently strangled the economy, has been the main motivation behind the protests.
China has been enforcing lockdowns of hundreds of millions of people alongside uncompromising testing and drawn-out isolation policies.
For now, infections and death numbers are low by international standards, but experts warn that a reopening could lead to widespread illness and deaths, potentially overwhelming hospitals due to China's low vaccination rate.
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