After a strenuous lockdown period, Shanghai allegedly urges financial aid to carry out the Zero-Covid policy, adding to speculation that the city’s financial health is being pushed to the brink because of strict pandemic measures.

On June 7, a document from the Shanghai Municipal State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, or Shanghai SASAC, was leaked online. The notice requested donations to assist the city’s fight against the pandemic. The document, which bears an official seal, warned not to let the information go public.

Subsequently, similar notices for financial assistance surfaced on the internet. Reacting to the papers, many Shanghainese claimed that local officials had told them to donate money. 

According to Chinese media Da Ji Yuan, one person said they donated 50 yuan (7 dollars) after a local official requested them. However, the individual was uncomfortable, saying that small-tier cities are more worthy of receiving money than metropolitan Shanghai.

Most comments about the city’s call for donations were negative. Many lamented that the past lockdown had drained them of their money. Others criticized, saying that even Shanghai is now struggling to afford the Zero-Covid policy.

The notices telling others not to publicize the information created doubts. Many wondered if it were all just a scam. One web screenshot provided by Da Ji Yuan showed a person urging others to be aware of a mass scamming scheme, as people were being asked to give away money but not to tell others about it.

Some speculated that adhering to the Zero-Covid policy has cost Shanghai dearly, and it’s now bankrupt. 

Ms. Huang, a Shanghai citizen, told the outlet that after the lockdown, foreign businessmen left, and small, medium, and micro enterprises have all closed down. She believed the call for donations meant Shanghai authorities might be struggling financially.

As more people talked about the topic, censorship quickly spread and dispersed conversations. On June 17, viral searches such as #Shanghai Donation# or #Shanghai Compulsory Donation# no longer produced any result. 

Only a tiny fraction of comments from the public relating to the topic remained.

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