According to Freedom House’s Global internet freedom report, for the eighth consecutive year, internet user conditions in China remain the “worst environment for internet freedom.”
On Friday, October 21, China deleted reports related to the death of a female middle school student in a quarantine facility. The incident then sparked public anger over the country’s zero-COVID policy.
Despite its heavy social and economic toll, China insists on its commitment to the draconian approach.
This week, a 14-year-old girl reportedly died of a high fever at a quarantine facility in Ruzhou, Henan. The video then circulated on Chinese social media.
According to CBS News, the incident happened during the sensitive time of China’s 20th National Congress. Therefore, the security and propaganda apparatus of the country is on high alert for any potential sources of instability.
By Friday afternoon, the hashtags “Ruzhou Girl” and “Girl from Ruzhou dies in quarantine” had been removed from Weibo. The majority of the videos related to the girl’s alleged death had also been taken down.
The official statistics at the top of the page for “Ruzhou Girl” showed that it had received 255,000 views and 158 posts as of Friday morning.
Public outrage over China’s pandemic response has been sparked by a video showing what appears to be a very ill teenager ignored by medical staff at a COVID quarantine facility.
Lying in a bunk bed, suffering seizures due to high fever, others in the room called for help.
In the video, a woman claiming to be the girl’s aunt said in tears, “At the start, the kid was fine… then she went (into quarantine) for four days and had a high fever, and now she’s gone.”
The woman added that the girl “had convulsions, vomiting, and a high fever and didn’t get medical attention in time.” She also said despite the child’s critical state, local health authorities did not respond to calls.