Best of the Week — First Winner
Greater China staff delivers swift, compelling coverage of unprecedented lockdown protests
Even by the standards of Chinese state surveillance, the capital of the Xinjiang region stands out for the scope of repression. So, when protests broke out in Urumqi against coronavirus restrictions, AP journalists knew something unusual was happening.
It started with an apartment fire blamed by many on China’s harsh coronavirus measures. Dake Kang, who has covered the region closely for the past five years, scored an early interview with a relative of victims of the fire, beating out competitors. By reaching out to people on the ground online, Taipei-based writer Huizhong Wu confirmed protests that had followed, adding critical eyewitness accounts.
Within 24 hours of the fire, Chinese social media was swamped with anti-government messages – people angry at restrictions that have locked them into their homes for weeks or months at a time, and critically blaming the leadership. In a country where media is restricted, residents are surveilled, and individuals are punished for speaking out against authority, this was extraordinary.
As unrest spread, AP staff in Beijing, Bangkok and Hong Kong used all their tools and cooperated across borders to produce swift, careful coverage of the unprecedented demonstrations, earning Best of the Week 1st winner.