One Chinese city has been in the news a lot lately – Shanghai (上海 shànghǎi). That’s because the city has been under an intense lockdown (封锁 fēngsuǒ). This is a result of the strict “zero COVID policy” (清零政策 qīng líng zhèngcè) that China has had in place. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at what’s going on as the Shanghai lockdown continues.
It’s been about six weeks since China’s largest city went into strict lockdown due to the Omicron variant. To combat the spread of the virus (病毒 bìngdú), Chinese health officials have implemented a strategy called “dynamic clearing” (动态清零 dòngtài qīng líng).
With cases on the rise back at the end of March, health officials started to place infected people in quarantine (隔离 gélí). They even went so far as to separate infected children from their families, which made international headlines.
This has led to officials in white hazmat suits (防护服 fánghù fú), referred to as “Big White” (大白 dàbái) by Chinese netizens, to show up at apartment complexes all over the city. Entire blocks have been cleared out due to one positive case. Even people with a negative test result have been forced into quarantine.
One viral video taken by a Shanghai resident shows health officials arriving to take them to a government quarantine facility. When the resident asks why this is happening, the official responds by saying “There is no why” (没有为什么 méiyǒu wéi shén me).
Frustration and anger are starting to mount, as people have been trapped in their homes for weeks. This has led to food shortages (食物短缺 shíwù duǎnquē) as people are unable to leave and online grocery delivery services have been barred from certain areas.
Many of those delivering food are migrant workers (农民工 nóngmín gōng) from rural areas or other provinces. While they are exempt from lockdown measures to do their job, they’re unable to find proper accommodation due to restrictions set in place by apartment complexes. As a result, many of them are currently living on the street.
While the government points to efforts to deliver basic necessities to people, many Shanghai residents have complained that the rations simply aren’t enough. Others have posted pictures of produce they received that was already rotten. In a country with a recent history of famine (饥荒 jīhuang), it’s no wonder many are very worried about the situation.
Many have taken to social media (社交媒体 shèjiāo méitǐ) such as Weibo (微博 wēi bó) to voice their anger, only to have their posts scrubbed by censors. For a brief period, even the word “Shanghai” itself was being censored from searches, as if the city of 25 million ceased to exist.
With this rampant internet censorship, many residents in Shanghai have taken to old-fashioned methods of protest. People have been yelling outside of their windows or banging pots and pans together to attract attention to their dire situation.
Xi Jinping, meanwhile, has vowed to “resolutely fight against all words and deeds that distort, doubt, and deny China’s epidemic prevention policies” (坚决同一切歪曲、怀疑、否定中国防疫方针政策的言行作斗争 jiānjué tóng yīqiè wāiqū, huáiyí, fǒudìng zhōngguó fángyì fāngzhēn zhèngcè de yánxíng zuò dòuzhēng).
The Chinese government insists that “Persistence is victory” (坚持就是胜利 jiānchí jiùshì shènglì) in regards to the strict lockdown measures in Shanghai. This comes despite the fact that case numbers have been on the decline for almost two weeks in a row now.
The CCP’s Central Committee had a meeting recently and issued this statement via Xinhua: “We won the defense of Wuhan, and we will definitely win the defense of Shanghai” (我们打赢了武汉保卫战，也一定能够打赢大上海保卫战 wǒmen dǎ yíngle wǔhàn bǎowèi zhàn, yě yīdìng nénggòu dǎ yíng dà shànghǎi bǎowèi zhàn). Click here for the article.
Director-General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the zero COVID policy is unsustainable (不可持续的 bùkě chíxù de). While much of the world has turned to a strategy of trying to coexist with the virus (与病毒共存 yǔ bìngdú gòngcún), it looks like China is still going full steam ahead on their zero COVID policy.
For a great Chinese reading and listening exercise, check out this article from VOA Chinese and listen to the audio version as you read. This video from Vice News is also worth watching for a closer look at what’s going on: