How bad is it?
The poor old lady jumped out of her house due to starvation and desperation. Her husband was crying next to her body hopelessly. #HumanRights #CCP #China #Shanghai #COVID19 #ZeroCovid pic.twitter.com/YpuZs4enwF
— Quantumist-Sam (@martingalequant) April 16, 2022
It’s so bad that even Chinese state media feels obliged to acknowledge the “doubt, anxiety and fatigue” among Shanghai residents. There’s no sense pretending otherwise: Despite the best efforts of government censors, Chinese social media has been overrun by complaints and criticism of Beijing’s response to the crisis. “On Thursday, two hashtags, one of them unrelated to covid, on the microblog Weibo were flooded with angry posts before they were censored,” per WaPo. According to Reuters, “Thousands of social media posts used a Weibo hashtag for a report by the official Xinhua news agency about police cracking down on COVID-related misinformation to post criticism of the government’s coronavirus response.” One of those hashtags had half a billion views. That’s “billion” with a “B.”
The complaints aren’t happening exclusively online, either:
This 'shouting warrior' is praised on WeChat today for shouting out to visiting officials that they can't get food, they can't order food, they don't know what's going on. Literally making his voice heard for the entire community. #Shanghai pic.twitter.com/4r60gBegQ5
— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) April 13, 2022
Why, it’s enough to make a Chinese citizen question the wisdom of the Communist Party. Which many seem to be doing, per the Wall Street Journal’s interviews with two dozen Shanghai residents.
“I’ve lost confidence in this government,” said one 36-year-old Shanghai native surnamed Chen, who declined to provide his given name because it remains risky to openly criticize political leaders. “Only during a crisis can you make a proper evaluation of the government’s performance.”…
Among more than two dozen residents who spoke from lockdown, some said they are reaching a breaking point more than two years into the pandemic. Some are considering leaving the country for good.
“The damage has been done,” said Liu Yun, a 34-year-old Shanghai native and technology entrepreneur who said he has begun contemplating emigrating to Singapore while confined at home with his wife and two children. “More elites will start re-evaluating their relationship with the city and this country.”…
“I’m afraid that this fight against the pandemic will evolve into some kind of social movement, where people at the bottom of the society end up hurting each other,” said Mr. Liu. “That’s terrifying.”
One problem for Beijing is that as the machinery of state propaganda chugs along mindlessly, mostly spewing happy talk about conditions in Shanghai, tens of millions of people know from firsthand experience or from what they’re seeing on social media that they’re being lied to. WaPo tells the story of one woman who was astonished to see her neighborhood touted in state media as a Shanghai success story due to its alleged ability to keep residents supplied with food. In reality, she’s received just one package in two weeks. And that package consisted of “one carrot, a cabbage, a yam and a few chicken wings that had already gone bad.”
Infrequent food packages with meager rations is a common experience in Shanghai:
Our third food package from our district in Pudong, Shanghai. Day 20 of our lockdown. pic.twitter.com/xg3WWLEUEg
— Rodrigo Zeidan (@RodZeidan) April 13, 2022
Zeidan is a professor at the city’s NYU campus, where faculty and students are locked down and desperate for deliverance despite the latter spending more than $75,000 per year to attend. “People in my building are without food. And I live in a very upscale neighborhood. The whole distribution of food has been shut down,” one faculty member said to the New York Post. If you’re lucky enough to be able to schedule a delivery online, you can expect to pay through the nose as stratospheric demand drives prices higher. One local told the Journal that just keeping his family fed was draining his savings. Imagine how desperate downscale Shanghaiers without savings must be.
China’s reward for this absurdly draconian lockdown, which is threatening to cause domestic unrest in its biggest city, is … an increase in COVID cases. Yesterday Shanghai reported 3,590 symptomatic infections, a new record, while the number of asymptomatic cases was slightly higher than the day before.
As for deaths, local officials continue to insist, absurdly, that there haven’t been any despite reports of mass outbreaks in nursing homes and elderly hospitals. Sources tell the BBC that at least 27 patients have died at a single Shanghai hospital after the virus began spreading there but those deaths were conveniently attributed to “underlying health problems” by authorities. Which suggests that the Chinese have taken the logic of American COVID skeptics to its logical propagandistic conclusion: No one in China dies *of* COVID, only *with* COVID.
In lieu of an exit question, watch this solid report on Shanghai from PBS. It efficiently covers various facets of the crisis in seven minutes, with special attention paid to the nightmare of being sent to a makeshift centralized quarantine facility. There are no showers, almost no privacy, and the lights are on 24/7. One foreigner interviewed by PBS has tested negative three times since being sent to quarantine and still has no idea when she’ll be able to leave. She’s so exasperated, she says, that she can’t wait to leave China and get back to her home country. She’s from Ukraine.
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