The video shows retirees’ protest over health insurance reforms in the Chinese city of Wuhan, not Shanghai

A video of protesters has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in Chinese-language social media posts that falsely claim it shows a demonstration against reforms to China’s vast public health insurance system in the country’s second-largest city Shanghai. The video actually shows a rally against the reforms in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, not Shanghai.

The video, which has been viewed more than 195,000 times, was shared on Twitter here on February 19, 2023.

Its Chinese-language caption reads: “After Wuhan and Dalian, a large number of citizens in Shanghai gathered to protest against the China Communist Party’s public health insurance policy.”

The video appears to show a crowd gathered on the street singing “The Internationale” — a standard of the international communist movement — and demanding their pensions be returned. A line of police officers can also be seen keeping an eye on the crowd.

Screenshot of the false tweet, captured on February 23, 2023

The clip circulated after hundreds of retirees staged protests in Wuhan in central China and Dalian in the northeast earlier in the month.

Protests are rare in China, where authorities strictly enforce public order laws and opposition is quickly snuffed out.

The outpouring of frustration in Wuhan and Dalian had been sparked by reforms to the country’s vast public health insurance system that had reduced the monthly allowances paid to retire.

The same two-minute, 15-second video was also shared in Chinese-language posts on Facebook, TikTok and Gettrwhile a portion of the clip was used in a YouTube video here.

It was also shared in English on Twitter here and here alongside a similar claim.

The video, however, does not show a protest in Shanghai.

As of February 24, there have been no official reports about protests over reforms to the public health insurance system within the last month in Chinese cities other than Wuhan and Dalian.

Wuhan protests

A keyword search on Twitter led to a similar, slightly longer video uploaded by the “Teacher Li” account on February 8.

The tweet says the clip shows a protest by retirees in Wuhan over the health insurance reforms.

The video in the false social media posts corresponds to the section of the longer footage from its five-second mark and its two-minute, 20-second mark.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video used in the false social media posts (left) and the video uploaded to Twitter on February 8 (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video used in the false tweet (left) and the video shared on Twitter on February 8 (right)

Images appearing to show the same protest were included in the longer Twitter thread from Teacher Li’s account, showing a signpost for Yanjiang Avenue and the southeast gate of government offices in Wuhan.

The location matches street view imagery available on Baidu Maps for the intersection of Wuhan’s Yanjiang Avenue and Yiyuan Road.

An analysis of the video circulating in false social media posts also shows corresponding landmarks in Wuhan, such as an auditorium of the Wuhan Municipal People’s Government and Wuhan’s Flood Protection Monument.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video used in the false posts (left) and the corresponding locations as seen on Baidu Maps (right), with the matching landmarks highlighted by AFP:

Screenshot comparison of the video used in the false posts (left) and the corresponding locations as seen on Baidu Maps (right)

The buildings seen in the background of the video used in the false posts also match the buildings seen in photos available on Baidu Mapswhich have been highlighted by AFP below:

Screenshot comparison of buildings seen in the video used in false posts (left) and images available on Baidu Maps (right)

AFP has previously debunked other posts related to the protests here and here.

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