The “zero-Covid” policy with strict, frequent, and sudden lockdowns and frequent Covid testing requirements is further fueling dissatisfaction with the living environment in China.

According to the Washington Post, there is now a movement to subscribe to a new school of thought known as “runxue”, which means the study of how to “run” away from China.

The Washington Post said that those who pursue “runxue” not only because “zero-Covid” policy is harsh, but also because they are worried about “what the future looks like in a society where politics – upholding the top leader’s policies no matter the cost – trumps science and the well-being of residents whose day-to-day lives are subject to ever more state interference.”

Zhu Aitao, 35, lives in the richest district of Beijing with her husband and their two young children. The couple owns their home and two cars, a BMW and a Lexus. But they still want to leave China.

Zhu shared, “I feel like I’m having an emotional breakdown.”

“I feel powerless. It [China’s regime] is like an overbearing father telling you that this is all for your own sake. You just need to listen. Don’t ask questions.”

A director at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany specializing in migration, Xiang Biao said, “It’s migration driven by a sense of disillusion.”

“People are not running away from the virus. People are running away from such top-down measures and disregard of individuals’ feelings and dignity.”

On April 3, when the Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China visited Shanghai and asked to persist with the “zero-Covid” policy, Washington Post cited Baidu data saying that searches for “emigration” on WeChat jumped by more than 400% from a day earlier and again by almost 500% on May 17 as restrictions continued.

Li Nuo, 45, from Hebei province, who obtained permanent residency in Japan last year, said, “This is definitely not a normal phenomenon, nor is it something that would be widely talked about in a healthy society.” 

Recently, Li has been helping his friends and family trying to leave China.

He added, “If China is really as powerful and great as it claims, why are so many people willing to send themselves into exile, and why do so many young people have no sense of security? What this says is that this society is sick”.

Joy Zhou, 23, who works at a nongovernmental organization in Beijing, plans to move to Canada in the next year, said, “Leaving is not just about the pandemic. I don’t identify with about 80 percent of mainstream social values here.”

Joy continued, “This system [China’s regime] is without a doubt backwards. People seem to have learned to cope with living in an unreasonable system, but will our lives ever become better?”

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