At the upcoming China party congress, Chinese leader Xi Jinping might talk about the achievement of his zero-COVID policy. Since the pandemic broke out in Wuhan 3 years ago, China has implemented a strict zero-COVID policy throughout the country, causing many social and economic consequences. Now Chinese people are losing patience.
Even though surveys about how Chinese people feel about COVID-19 aren’t accurate and social media is heavily censored in the mainland, more people who disagree with Xi’s position have come forward in recent weeks.
For example, in the past few weeks, more concerns about lockdowns and frequent PCR tests have been raised on the Chinese Weibo account of Li Wenliang. Li Wenliang was the late Wuhan doctor who blew the whistle about the pandemic in the early days. But police later arrested him for spreading rumors. He later died from COVID.
Last month, more than two dozen people died in a bus accident as they were taken to a quarantine facility. A hashtag about the accident was seen hundreds of millions of times and raised widespread public anger.
Gao Yu is a top editor at the Chinese giant media group Caixin. He wrote on WeChat about how sad he was about the accident and how he doesn’t agree with mass COVID testing, zero-COVID, or locking the country off from the rest of the world.
His post was quickly censored.
China Media Project published a translation of his post. He wrote:
“… what is not understandable is to hold 1.3 billion Chinese people in bondage because an extremely small number of people could contract Covid and die”.
He added, “Right now the entire world is declaring that the Covid pandemic has ended. But in this huge country still, an entire building of people can be dragged away to quarantine because a single person is positive, and an entire city can be forcibly locked down.”
He cited the example in the province of Guizhou:
“So far in Guizhou, not a single person has died of Omicron. But the fear of the possible spread of Omicron has put six million people under lockdown and has resulted in the forced removal of 30,000 people to quarantine facilities, of which some 10,000 have been distributed to other cities.”
China’s social unrest has intensified this year more than in the previous two years. Students have fought back at Peking University and other places like Shanghai. Even in Hainan, a lockdown left a lot of tourists stranded all of a sudden.
Leaked films from China’s far west Xinjiang province showed there wasn’t enough food. People were starving; many were kids. The quarantine facilities weren’t clean either. This made ethnic Han, who make up 90% of the country’s population, feel a lot of sympathy for Muslim Uyghurs, who are about half of the people who live in Xinjiang.
As the word “lockdown” has become more nightmarish, it has been replaced by words like “static management” and “pressing the pause button.”
Hu Xijin is the former editor-in-chief of Beijing’s mouthpiece Global Times. He has also admitted that China’s response to the virus was becoming unsustainable, even though it might help stop a lot of people from dying like in the U.S. and other places. Last month, Hu wrote in a Weibo post:
“More and more people reject static management.”
“They’re finding it intolerable.”
The post was later deleted.