This man tweets China COVID protests to the world

STORY: This man shared China's COVID protests with the rest of the world

Location: Italy

Li's Twitter handle 'Teacher Li is Not Your Teacher' became an Internet sensation

as he reposted details and footage of protests from citizens across China

against the government's stringent COVID-19 lockdown measures

and the Chinese Communist Party's curbs on individual liberties and information

(Teacher Li, Chinese critic and painter)

"The reason why I can't stop is because this account has become a symbol of the Chinese people's pursuit of freedom of speech. It represents the things we need to know, and the things we want to know. It represents our right to know. It represents our desire to speak and express ourselves. I feel it's my duty."

From his apartment in northern Italy

Li uses virtual private networks (VPNs) to circumvent China's Great Firewall

to access critical and uncensored content

He says during the height of the protests he was posting every few minutes

“In the past Chinese people weren't willing to express themselves, because they knew it’s very dangerous. For example, when you type some people’s names online, you would be interviewed by the police. This time, we have seen many people chanting in front of the police. On one hand, people realized they could express themselves, on the other hand, all the grievances that have been suppressed for so long would also drive people to express themselves. Because people were not willing to speak up in the past 30 years, they have bottled up many things. But I believe through this crack, this opening, more and more people will come out to express their demands.”

The recent protests in China are widely seen as a tipping point to an easing in tight COVID restrictions

The vast majority of the protests opposed zero-COVID measures

with a smaller number calling for the ouster of Xi Jinping or the Chinese Communist Party

Chinese authorities have largely stayed silent about the protests

Li says his Twitter account has put him in a vulnerable position

He's received death threats while his family back home has been questioned by police

(Teacher Li, Chinese critic and painter)

“The most important thing is not my life, but the security of this account. Even if this account is no longer safe or it is deleted or something else, the awareness of people to speak, to express themselves has started. There are so many bloggers on Twitter. Everyone can do this kind of thing, not only me. Hence, I am very scared but at the same time I am not afraid.”