There is a committed following for China’s “zero Covid” policy: the millions of individuals who are working hard toward that objective, no matter what the human cost may be.
A man suffering from chest problems was denied admission to a hospital in the northern city of Xi’an because he lived in a medium-risk neighbourhood, according to hospital personnel.
They told a lady who was eight months pregnant and bleeding that her Covid test was not legitimate since she was eight months pregnant. She had misplaced her child.
After spotting a young guy outside during the lockdown, two community security officers informed him they didn’t care that he’d had nothing to eat since they didn’t care about him. They stomped on him and beat him up.
The Xi’an administration acted swiftly and decisively in enforcing a rigorous lockdown in late December, when the number of reported cases was on the increase. Despite this, the city’s 13 million people were unable to get food, medical treatment, and other requirements because the government was unprepared, resulting in turmoil and problems unprecedented since the nation first shut down Wuhan in January 2020.
It seems that China’s early success in managing the epidemic via the use of iron fist and authoritarian policies empowered its authorities, giving them the appearance of being given permission to act with conviction and righteousness. Many authorities now feel that they must do all in their ability to guarantee that there are no Covid infections because it is the wish of their supreme commander, Xi Jinping, to do so.
The first priority for the authorities is virus control. People’s life, well-being, and dignity are not considered until much later.
The administration enjoys the support of a massive army of community workers who are zealous in their implementation of the programme, as well as hordes of online nationalists who attack anybody who expresses their dissatisfaction or worries. The disasters in Xi’an have caused some Chinese citizens to wonder how individuals in charge of implementing quarantine regulations can operate in such a haphazard manner, and to inquire as to who bears ultimate responsibility.
When the coronavirus first appeared in Wuhan two years ago, it served as a stark reminder of the flaws in China’s totalitarian regime. Patients have died as a result of non-Covid diseases, residents have gone without food, and officials have been pointing fingers. The lockdown in Xi’an demonstrates how the country’s political apparatus has become increasingly rigid, infusing ruthlessness into its unwavering pursuit of a zero-Covid policy.
Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, is in a far better situation than Wuhan, which was hit hard by the virus in early 2020, killing hundreds of people and overloading the city’s medical infrastructure. Only three Covid-related fatalities have been documented in Xi’an, with the most recent being in March 2020. By July, the city claimed that 95 percent of its adults had been immunised. It has recorded 2,017 confirmed cases in the most recent wave as of Monday, with no fatalities reported.
The city’s health code system, which is meant to monitor individuals and enforce quarantines, failed as a result of the high volume of people using it. Deliveries have all but vanished from the scene. Some locals resorted to the internet to express their dissatisfaction with the lack of food available.
As a result of Wuhan, the Chinese internet has degraded into a partisan forum for nationalists to glorify China, its government, and the Communist Party of China (CPC). There is no room for dissent or criticism, and those who express their problems online are vilified for supplying ammo to hostile foreign media.
According to a snapshot of her Twitter account, the social networking site Red blocked a tweet by the daughter of a man who died of a heart attack because it “included unfavourable information about the society.”
In Xi’an, there is no author like Fang Fang, who keeps a diary of her experiences during the Wuhan lockdown, and no citizen journalist like Chen Qiushi, Fang Bin, or Zhang Zhan, who posts recordings. The four of them have either been silenced, jailed, vanished, or have been let to die in prison, delivering a clear warning to anybody who would dare to speak out against Xi’an in the future.
An essay on the Xi’an lockdown authored by former journalist Zhang Wenmin, a Xi’an resident known by her pen name, Jiang Xue, became widely distributed when it was published in The New York Times. She has subsequently had her piece removed from the site, and state security personnel have advised her not to speak out about the incident again, according to a source close to her. Some social media users referred to her as “trash” who should be thrown away.
According to persons acquainted with the situation, a few Chinese newspapers that had published good investigative pieces out of Wuhan did not send reporters to Xi’an because they were unable to get permits to move freely in the city when it was under lockdown.
In 2020, a former athlete who is now paralysed and suffering from a number of ailments cursed Fang Fang for her Wuhan journal, which she would publish the following year. He complained on his Weibo account last month that he was unable to get medication because his complex in Xi’an had been closed down. Since his troubles have been resolved, Mr. Zhang now uses the hashtag #everyoneinpositiveenergy and retweets messages that criticise Ms. Zhang, the former journalist, on social media platforms.
In spite of declaring success in the city’s fight against the virus only a few days ago, the administration isn’t backing down on many of the regulations and is setting a very high bar for when the lockdown will be lifted. Following the meeting, the party secretary of Shaanxi advised the city’s authorities to continue with “tight” pandemic control measures in the future.