Angry Chinese Internet users have rebelled against Beijing’s censors by trying to “keep alive” a viral video documenting the people of Shanghai’s experience with deprivation and cumbersome tactics in the strict blockade of the city.
- Beijing censors have tried to erase any mention of the video from Chinese social networks
- Some netizens have experimented with ways to circumvent censorship
- Shanghai reported 12 deaths and 20,634 new cases of coronavirus infection on Friday
The closure of the entire city in Shanghai began in early April, although many people have been locked in their homes for much longer and stress is taking its toll on residents.
On social networks, netizens clashed with censors on Friday night to share a 6-minute video called The Voice of April, a montage of voices recorded during the Shanghai outbreak.
The video moves quiet Shanghai skyscrapers and consists of residents who complain about the lack of food and medicine, as well as the cumbersome tactics of the city authorities.
All direct references to the film were removed from Weibo’s microblogging service by Saturday morning, although some comments criticizing censorship survived.
“I can only say that if you don’t want to listen to just a small number of real voices, then it’s really hopeless,” said one of them.
Many recalled the anger that erupted on social media two years after Li Wenliang’s death on COVID-19.
Dr Li was reprimanded by police for sharing “false” information about a new SARS-like infectious disease in Wuhan in late 2019.
“Dr. Li, nothing has changed after two years,” said another Weibo user.
“We still can’t open our mouths, we still can’t talk.”
However, some Internet users have experimented with possible ways to circumvent censorship by embedding QR code links in the video or even the video itself in other content.
‘We grit our teeth’
Despite anger and frustration among residents in Shanghai’s closed residential areas, local officials say there will be no release until all new cases outside the quarantine area have been eliminated.
“The more critical the period, the more we have to grit our teeth and focus our strength,” said Shanghai Mayor Gong Zheng late Friday night on WeChat’s official government channel in Shanghai.
Shanghai, which is battling China’s largest coronavirus epidemic to date, reported 12 new deaths on COVID-19 on Friday, up from 11 the day before.
Patients who died were an average of 88 years old, local authorities said. They all had basic health problems and no one was vaccinated.
The number of cases outside the quarantine area was 218 on Friday, down from 250 the previous day.
There were 20,634 new local asymptomatic infections in the city, up from 15,698 on Thursday.
The total number of new symptomatic cases reached 2,736, compared to 1,931 on April 21, according to official data.
“One strategy that requires immediate implementation is to increase revaccination rates in the elderly and other vulnerable groups and see if mRNA vaccines can be used,” said Jaya Dantas, a public health expert at Curtin School of Population Health v. Australia, which monitors epidemic in Shanghai.
China has not yet introduced its own mRNA vaccines and has decided not to import those developed overseas.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to search, up and down arrows to volume. Tracking time: 1 minute 56 seconds 1 m 56 s In pursuit of “COVID-zero”, China is pushing for strict locking in Shanghai.
Liang Wannian, head of the National Health Commission’s COVID-19 expert advisory body, told state television late Friday night that China’s “dynamic” zero COVID policy had given the country “time to prepare,” allowing it to boost vaccination levels.
Tang Jiafu, a city official, admitted on Saturday that the disruption has put pressure on Shanghai’s environment, with less than half of its sanitation workers currently active, affecting waste collection rates.
Even after weaning for more than 30 days, some compounds are still reporting new cases, which calls into question the effectiveness of the Chinese approach.
“This is a considerable amount of time and has an impact on mental health. People are exhausted and frustrated,” Dr. Dantas said.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to search, up and down arrows to volume. Tracking time: 2 minutes 52 seconds 2 m 52 s Releasing COVID-19 rules raises questions about testing regimes and mandates for masks
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ABC / Reuters