In a recent TV interview, U.S. President Joe Biden declared that “the pandemic is over.” While in the West, countries are returning to a more normal lifestyle after more than 2 years of lockdowns and restrictions; in China, the communist regime continues to implement its “zero-COVID” policy without measuring too much the consequences on the population.
Repeated closures in Shenzhen
Lockdowns in several areas of Shenzhen have been repeated several times since the beginning of the year. Authorities order quarantines for a few days, when cases reach zero they relax them. Then when cases reappear, they impose the lockdowns again.
In March, several videos on social media showed Shenzhen residents in desperate situations. Authorities decided to confine the large city of 17 million, prevent people from leaving residential buildings and ordered people to work from home. After a few days of this, citizens’ complaints went viral on the internet.
In some residential areas, neighbors were not receiving the food supplies they needed to survive and no one was responding to their complaints. If they tried to shop online, they found that food prices had risen considerably. In addition to the widespread fatigue caused by more than 2 years of pandemic and repeated lockdowns, citizens had to resign themselves to starvation because of the government’s stay-at-home orders.
For some Shenzhen residents, this became unbearable and they were pushed to the brink of insanity. Videos on the internet showed people shouting from their windows and some banging pots and pans from the roofs of buildings. An international Chinese-language media reported a sad event in a neighborhood in Futian District. A woman went to the roof of her building, screamed in despair, and in full view of her neighbors, jumped.
Chinese citizens in the streets protesting
Recently, several videos from Shenzhen went viral on Twitter. They show angry Chinese citizens protesting in the streets, and shouting “Chinese Communist Party does not keep its promises.” There were also several clashes between protesters and police.
Under the communist regime’s strict “zero-COVID” policy, authorities ordered the lockdown of four districts in Shenzhen on September 26, as 10 new positive COVID-19 cases were reported. In another district, the local government ordered total quarantine for a single new confirmed case.
These measures provoked anger and outrage from residents, who came out to protest and chant against the Chinese Communist Party.
According to international media, the center of the protests was in the Shawei neighborhood, Futian District. Several videos were posted on Chinese social networks and were quickly removed by CCP censorship teams.
Street protests in China are becoming more frequent and this is a reflection of the social state of the country, a persistent concern for Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who is awaiting a possible third term in office after the celebration of the 20th Party Congress.
‘Zero-COVID’ policy on Weibo
On Chinese social networks, people’s negative comments against the “zero-COVID” policy are more frequent, however, they do not reflect the same anger of Chinese people on the streets because many comments are deleted. A former member of the state-owned media Global Times published an article questioning the Chinese Communist Party’s “zero-COVID” policy.
The article states, “Omicron is a big problem for humanity, and the reality is that countries around the world have collectively lost the battle and accepted the natural consequences of the COVID pandemic, including deaths and prolonged COVID. Only China is still fighting. But this fight will be like sailing a boat against the current.”
The post received more than 55,000 likes and comments. One comment read: “I am not opposed to epidemic prevention, I am opposed to how ‘one solution fits all’! As quickly as possible, we need to push for [local] Health Code applications to recognize each other and stop making people isolate themselves and stay home in low risk areas.”
The comments are moderated by Chinese Communist Party censors, for this reason the content of the comments are similar.
Social unrest continues to grow
Shanghai, one of the world’s most important economic centers, came under the Chinese regime’s strict “zero-COVID” policy in March 2022. Despite recommendations from international bodies on how harmful the lockdowns and quarantines are, China did the opposite.
With the emergence of the omicron variant in 2022, Shanghai abandoned relatively normal life and initiated strict containment measures. Half of the city was completely locked down. After a meeting of senior leaders, the Party secretary of Shanghai announced control and prevention measures to bring the city to “zero-COVID.”
Chinese internet users were quick to publicize the consequences of the restrictions in Shanghai: Children were abandoned in quarantine centers, people in urgent need of medical treatment died because they were denied health care, and entire neighborhoods went without food for days because no one came. The Chinese videos broke through the regime’s great internet firewall and went viral in the West.
Social discontent began to grow among the Chinese, as the most extreme and implausible situations were replicated through Chinese videos leaked on the internet. An example of this was the video showing a pandemic worker in a residential area beating to death a corgi dog, which belonged to a person with an alleged positive COVID result.
Since the beginning of 2022, with prolonged lockdowns in Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Chengdu, several hashtags protesting and against the Chinese communist regime’s measures became popular on Weibo, such as the hashtag “why can’t China lift restrictions like foreign countries?” However, these were quickly removed.