The few protests that spread across China over the weekend there were often protesters holding pieces of blank white papera phenomenon that has caused problems for the country’s leading stationery chain.
In a symbolic protest against censorship, young protesters held up sheets of white paper – a metaphor for the critical social media posts, news articles and outspoken online accounts that have been wiped from the internet as thousands people took to the streets.
The unprecedented uprising, which was largely ignored by Chinese state media, saw protesters call for an end to strict Covid lockdown measures and political freedoms.
Shares of M&G Stationery, a household name with more than 80,000 outlets across China, fell 3% on Monday after a widely circulated document on Chinese social media said the company would ban domestic sales. of A4 white paper sheets in line. and offline, starting Tuesday.
A4 refers to a standard paper size commonly used in countries other than the United States and Canada.
M&G Stationery is based in Shanghai and sells its products in more than 50 countries and regions around the world, according to the company’s website. It is currently listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and has a market capitalization of $6 billion.
The document shared on social networks said the ban was to “maintain national security and stability” and “prevent outlaws from hoarding a large amount of A4 white paper and using it for illegal subversive activities”. He also said the company “strongly condemns the recent ‘white paper movement'” in various cities across China.
Shortly after its shares fell, M&G Stationery said the document circulating online was fabricated and the company notified the police, according to a filing on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s website.
“The company’s current production and operation are all normal,” the stationery supplier said.
After M&G released its filing, some social media users said they were unable to order sheets of A4 white paper from the company’s online stores.
“If the rumor is false, then why doesn’t his Taobao store support A4 paper delivery to many parts of China?” said a Weibo user with IP location in Liaoning province. Taobao is one of the largest e-commerce platforms in China, owned by the Alibaba Group
Another user with the IP address in Shandong Province said delivery may fail if the address is in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Following the filing on the stock exchange, the shares of M&G Stationery recouped some losses but was still down 1% at Monday’s close. On Tuesday, the stock rebounded, in line with the broad market gains.
The protests were sparked by a deadly fire last Thursday in Urumqi, the capital of the far western region of Xinjiang. The blaze killed at least 10 people and injured nine in a building, sparking public fury after videos of the incident appeared to show lockdown measures had delayed firefighters from reaching victims.
The city had been in lockdown for more than 100 days, with residents unable to leave the area and many forced to stay at home.
Videos showed Urumqi residents marching towards a government building and chanting an end to the lockdown on Friday. The following morning, the local government said it would lift the lockdown in stages, but did not provide a specific timetable or respond to protests.
This failed to quell public anger and protests quickly spread beyond Xinjiang, with residents of cities and universities across China also taking to the streets.
In recent days, vigils and demonstrations in solidarity with protesters in China have taken place around the world, including in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
Global Markets fell on Monday as investors feared protests in China could dent growth in the world’s second-largest economy and worsen global supply chain disruptions. The American, European and Asian markets closed lower overall.
But markets in Hong Kong and mainland China rebounded on Tuesday, gains accelerating after the State Council, China’s cabinet, announced that health authorities would hold an afternoon press conference on the Covid measures.