Sun Jian, a 37-year-old bachelor's degree student in Yantai, China, began a solo campaign against his university's COVID-19 prevention policies after months, including widespread widespread criticism on social media.
When Sun arrived around his campus carrying a letter, he said, "lift the lockdown on Ludong," the last straw for authorities was the day.
According to a Reuters statement, police were detained and he was expelled from the Ludong University on April 1st.
Officials from the University of Minnesota did not respond to a request for comment.
The Chinese public has been broadening the idea of a zero-COVID program that kept the coronavirus at bay for the two years after it became prevalent in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019 and spread rapidly around the world.
As the extremely contagious Omicron variant develops in China, the support appears to be wearing thin, causing restrictions that have resulted in food shortages, family separations, lost wages, and economic aches.
Sun's protest reflects a growing fear and resentment in a society that generally respects authority, as well as a COVID strategy that is increasingly challenged by the Omicron variation.
In some instances, the push-back has gone viral on social media, with video clips of citizens sticking with health workers and declaring unintentional behavior about lockdowns.
As China grows more self-serving under President Xi Jinping, the space for dissent has been reduced, and authorities have been confused by the idea of COVID restrictions, which has caused tensions among the public.
Sun said that his university had moved lectures online and prohibited students from arriving at campus, receiving packages or receiving outside food deliveries.
Given what he described as the low death rates associated with the Omicron variation, he dismissed the restrictions as unnecessarily.
"The severity caused by the virus cannot be compared to the difficulties caused by some of our school's anti-COVID policies," Sun told Reuters by phone.
His social media accounts have been blocked, according to him.
'VENTING OFF,' says the filmmaker.
According to a search on the Weibo social media platform for police statements, posts by state agencies, and state media reports from around China, arrests and detentions for COVID-related rulebreaking increased in March.
According to Reuters, 59 confirmed police cases and 26 arrests for COVID rule-breaking were found in January, and less were in February. In March, more than 600 police cases and 150 confirmed arrests were reported on Weibo.
The figures are unlikely to represent a fraction of the actual cases, as not every incident takes place on social media or is reported by the authorities.
In March, the public security council announced a surge in crackdowns on COVID rule violations, with cities and counties publishing 80 notices on their Weibo accounts, compared to seven in January and 10 in February.
Some infractions involve citizens attempting to violate regulations, such as reporting travels on a health app, falsifying COVID test results, and sneaking out of locked-down neighborhoods.
Assaults on health employees have also risen.
A total of 12 people have been arrested, including many who are "venting off dissatisfaction" and using "inappropriate language" in the wake of the epidemic.
Authorities are attempting to control the public message as the resentment simmers, often with censorship of online complaints.
Videos of a protest against lockdowns in Langfang, a city near Beijing, were quickly removed from Weibo on April 5, respectively.
Shanghai announced a crackdown on "rumors" last week, threatening to stop offending social media chat groups.
But a public pushback may yield results.
After protesting, students at Sichuan University in Chengdu forced university officials to temporarily suspend a campus lockdown, according to the South China Morning Post.
Public media warnings have a long term effect on the fire.
Thousands of social media posts used a Weibo hashtag to point out the government's coronavirus response.
By Friday, the company had gained more than half a billion views.