The Zero campaign depends on censorship and makes it a universal political obligation for Chinese citizens to collectively deny their own public-health crisis. That China’s health statistics are manipulated for the Communist Party’s political benefit is not news. Local officials, medical personnel, and, indeed, the entire society need to participate in the deception. It is the newest of a string of impossible tasks that the Communist Party has demanded of the Chinese people, reminiscent of Mao’s absurd productivity quotas, and of his often-lethal punishments for failure. As Roger Scruton observed, “it takes infinite force to make people to do what is impossible.”

The government, which claims that virtually no new COVID-19 cases have appeared recently in Wuhan, has begun to relax the lockdown in Hubei Province. But while the Chinese regime tries to control perceptions of events inside the country, widespread anger and intensified distrust at the government’s moral and administrative failures is giving rise to a groundswell of citizen journalists attempting to break through the official propaganda machinery of CCTV, CGTN, People’s Daily, and Global Times and to expose what is happening.

The evidence they present about COVID-19 contradicts official narratives. Stories on Chinese social media, censored or removed almost as soon as they appear, reveal how local governments cover up new cases and how hospitals are ordered to report new cases as normal flu or pneumonia.

The stories indicate that Hubei Province, far from moving toward normality, is being locked down again by people and police in the surrounding provinces who know the real situation in Hubei.