An Inside Look at the ‘Zero-COVID’ Lockdowns in China

CommentaryState-run Chinese media have been trumpeting the supposedly glorious efforts of Chinese public health officials—with their local security enforcers in the background—in containing the spread of COVID-19 in Chinese cities under the umbrella of the Xi Jinping’s grand “Zero-COVID” policy. The continuous agitprop on this subject serves several purposes for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP): (1) convincing the Chinese people and the world that the totalitarian “zero-COVID” that is ruining Chinese lives actually works; (2) propagating the fear porn message to the world that the “pandemic” is still ongoing; (3) keeping a lid on any domestic dissent, especially in Shanghai, leading up to the expected approval of Xi’s continued leadership status at the upcoming 20th National Congress of the CCP; and (4) camouflaging Chinese economic woes through purposeful interruption of global supply chains that adversely affects the world economy. The CCP appears to be playing some high-stakes poker in pursuit of these purposes because, whether intended or not, the “zero-COVID” lockdowns are also destroying the Chinese economy, as previously reported by Epoch Times here. The eyes gaze at the endless stream of “zero-COVID” headlines that reinforce the CCP propaganda purposes behind “zero COVID.” Some recent examples include the following: “Experts: Anti-COVID strategy works” (China Daily) “Dropping dynamic zero-COVID approach in China could cause 1.55 million deaths: study” (China Daily) “Shanghai records lowest daily tally since March 24, may need fight at community level ‘till June 8’” (Global Times) “China’s zero-covid will be proven beneficial for world economy” (Global Times) “Racing against time and virus, China merits global confidence” (People’s Daily) “Dynamic zero-COVID approach, China’s choice to safeguard lives, underpin economic growth” (China Daily) Ad nauseum. Regarding that last item, does the CCP seriously believe that “Zero COVID” is “China’s choice”? Read on. What do lockdowns really mean to average Chinese citizens who have to endure them? As The Wall Street Journal reported on May 10, if a single person in an apartment building tests positive, people in the entire building need to be isolated while the infected person and all occupants of that apartment are moved to centralized quarantine facilities. The Journal further reported on May 15 that mass testing is now the norm, with negative tests required to complete simple daily activities such as buying groceries or riding the subway. Imagine having under that regimen day after day! To summarize what the harsh lockdowns mean for average citizens: lockdowns initiated at any time without advance notice; restriction to one’s living quarters (including being physically locked in); being sent to a quarantine facility if testing positive; limited or no access to hospitals for routine medical procedures and urgent care; reduced availability to food supplies (some may be government-provided and some mass-ordered for delivery if fortunate); and “escape” from home quarantine authorized only for mandatory daily COVID tests. A security worker locks a door with a chain in a neighborhood under a COVID-19 lockdown in the Jing’an district of Shanghai on June 2, 2022. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images) Is the patience of the people wearing thin into the eighth week of the lockdowns in Shanghai and other Chinese cities? A video tweeted on May 16 by Fang Zhouzi (@fangshimin), a Chinese muckraker who is an opponent of pseudoscience and other fraud, provides striking evidence of discord. In it, two groups of people clad in biosafety suits attack each other outside what is probably an apartment building. While the context of the confrontation is unclear, a logical deduction is that the situation had something to do with the “zero-COVID” lockdown enforcement, given that everyone in the video was clothed in a biosafety suit. Some informed speculation is provided below, courtesy of a friend who is fluent in Chinese and has routine communications with long-time Chinese friends on the mainland. He described the situation as “a mess” (yī tuán luàn一團亂). And given that the Chinese population is seething over the continuing lockdowns, the likelihood is high that this sort of incident is probably happening elsewhere. First of all, my friend has frequently referred to Chinese medical personnel wearing biosafety suits by the term “big white” (dàbái 大白). These people were all health workers at the start of the pandemic in China. Since the brutal Shanghai lockdowns began, many “zero-COVID” enforcers were dressed in white hazmat suits with blue stripes. As time passed and the lockdowns became institutionalized and the procedures more brutal, a considerable portion of the “big white” morphed into enforcers, including “urban management” (chéngguǎn 城管), the dreaded parapolice who plague Chinese cities. That’s truly disturbing since the latter—in years past—were in

An Inside Look at the ‘Zero-COVID’ Lockdowns in China

Commentary

State-run Chinese media have been trumpeting the supposedly glorious efforts of Chinese public health officials—with their local security enforcers in the background—in containing the spread of COVID-19 in Chinese cities under the umbrella of the Xi Jinping’s grand “Zero-COVID” policy.

The continuous agitprop on this subject serves several purposes for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP): (1) convincing the Chinese people and the world that the totalitarian “zero-COVID” that is ruining Chinese lives actually works; (2) propagating the fear porn message to the world that the “pandemic” is still ongoing; (3) keeping a lid on any domestic dissent, especially in Shanghai, leading up to the expected approval of Xi’s continued leadership status at the upcoming 20th National Congress of the CCP; and (4) camouflaging Chinese economic woes through purposeful interruption of global supply chains that adversely affects the world economy.

The CCP appears to be playing some high-stakes poker in pursuit of these purposes because, whether intended or not, the “zero-COVID” lockdowns are also destroying the Chinese economy, as previously reported by Epoch Times here.

The eyes gaze at the endless stream of “zero-COVID” headlines that reinforce the CCP propaganda purposes behind “zero COVID.” Some recent examples include the following:

  • “Experts: Anti-COVID strategy works” (China Daily)
  • “Dropping dynamic zero-COVID approach in China could cause 1.55 million deaths: study” (China Daily)
  • “Shanghai records lowest daily tally since March 24, may need fight at community level ‘till June 8’” (Global Times)
  • “China’s zero-covid will be proven beneficial for world economy” (Global Times)
  • “Racing against time and virus, China merits global confidence” (People’s Daily)
  • “Dynamic zero-COVID approach, China’s choice to safeguard lives, underpin economic growth” (China Daily)

Ad nauseum. Regarding that last item, does the CCP seriously believe that “Zero COVID” is “China’s choice”? Read on.

What do lockdowns really mean to average Chinese citizens who have to endure them?

As The Wall Street Journal reported on May 10, if a single person in an apartment building tests positive, people in the entire building need to be isolated while the infected person and all occupants of that apartment are moved to centralized quarantine facilities.

The Journal further reported on May 15 that mass testing is now the norm, with negative tests required to complete simple daily activities such as buying groceries or riding the subway. Imagine having under that regimen day after day!

To summarize what the harsh lockdowns mean for average citizens: lockdowns initiated at any time without advance notice; restriction to one’s living quarters (including being physically locked in); being sent to a quarantine facility if testing positive; limited or no access to hospitals for routine medical procedures and urgent care; reduced availability to food supplies (some may be government-provided and some mass-ordered for delivery if fortunate); and “escape” from home quarantine authorized only for mandatory daily COVID tests.

Epoch Times Photo
A security worker locks a door with a chain in a neighborhood under a COVID-19 lockdown in the Jing’an district of Shanghai on June 2, 2022. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

Is the patience of the people wearing thin into the eighth week of the lockdowns in Shanghai and other Chinese cities?

A video tweeted on May 16 by Fang Zhouzi (@fangshimin), a Chinese muckraker who is an opponent of pseudoscience and other fraud, provides striking evidence of discord. In it, two groups of people clad in biosafety suits attack each other outside what is probably an apartment building.

While the context of the confrontation is unclear, a logical deduction is that the situation had something to do with the “zero-COVID” lockdown enforcement, given that everyone in the video was clothed in a biosafety suit. Some informed speculation is provided below, courtesy of a friend who is fluent in Chinese and has routine communications with long-time Chinese friends on the mainland. He described the situation as “a mess” (yī tuán luàn一團亂). And given that the Chinese population is seething over the continuing lockdowns, the likelihood is high that this sort of incident is probably happening elsewhere.

First of all, my friend has frequently referred to Chinese medical personnel wearing biosafety suits by the term “big white” (dàbái 大白). These people were all health workers at the start of the pandemic in China. Since the brutal Shanghai lockdowns began, many “zero-COVID” enforcers were dressed in white hazmat suits with blue stripes.

As time passed and the lockdowns became institutionalized and the procedures more brutal, a considerable portion of the “big white” morphed into enforcers, including “urban management” (chéngguǎn 城管), the dreaded parapolice who plague Chinese cities. That’s truly disturbing since the latter—in years past—were infamous for beating to death fruit sellers on the streets and people who resisted having their homes demolished (“chāi 拆”) during forced urban renewal and expansion projects.

The incredible video clip from Fang Zhouzi provides a template for what’s almost certainly happening in China regularly these days: the police are beating “the people,” and there’s strife between hostile groups of individuals who want—as reflected by their dress, behavior, and equipment/accouterments—to be viewed as carrying out the wishes of some authority.

Here’s some speculation from one of his friends in China on the video. He only heard “the police hit someone” (警察打人了) from spectators (maybe the one taking the video, who was then harshly criticized in the comments for being a coward and not daring to join the fight). Some comments suggest that the people in blue were real guards, whereas those in white were the ones being quarantined. It seems the blues are police as they were beating the white.

Next is some speculation from an “ardent patriot of the People’s Republic of China,” who views the video as a confrontation between blue-clad community association representatives and white uniformed hospital/health workers who want to enter the community to do their “zero-COVID” activities. According to this person, the clash took place at the entrance to a “community” (xiǎoqū 小区).

The people in white robes are from the “medical system” (医疗系统). They are nurses, doctors, and medical people–generally outsiders to a community but higher in the hierarchical system regarding regulations and commands. The people in blue robes are from the “community work system” (社区工作系统) or “street office” (街道办事处). They are usually “public servants” (公务员 ) who were selected (or volunteered) to serve the community. In normal times, they would mediate quarrels between two families; they would be familiar with everybody who lives in the community, and if you run into them, they’d say “hi” to you and ask how you’re doing, or they would be in charge of all kinds of community/condominium affairs.

So, in short, this seems most likely to be a “battle” at the entrance of a certain community between “insiders” and “outsiders.” The “insiders” wear blue. Their job is to serve the community, and some of the blue robes may be representatives of the residents in the community that they work for. So they speak for the community. The “outsiders” wear white. They are medicare workers dispatched from hospitals. They don’t care about any individual community; they care about the COVID situation in general, and they visit every community.

Therefore, the scenario looks like the white-robed “medicare outsiders” want to come inside a certain community—perhaps to seal people’s doors with “quarantine tape,” or maybe to keep building a wall, or doing other things. The blue-robed “community service insiders” want to prevent them from entering, and so they keep pushing them out—perhaps they’ve already been quarantined too long and just gained their freedom, or they wanted to protect a particular family from being carried away to the “square cabin hospital” (方舱医院) or a quarantine facility, or for some other reasons.

At the end of the video, you can see that two white-robed people were lying on the ground, beaten by the blue-robed ones. Those beaten white robes may also be a reason for swarms of white robes wanting to come inside. Maybe it’s not so much about the quarantine, but simply they wanted to save their own people.

Concluding Comments

Most Americans and other Westerners are entirely ignorant of the draconian “zero-COVID” lockdown measures being implemented in many Chinese cities. All individual liberties and freedoms are sacrificed for what the CCP arbitrarily conveys as the “common good of the Chinese people” (a typical CCP euphemism).

There is complete stratification in Chinese society and an incredible hierarchy of officialdom that reaches down into the very living quarters of average Chinese citizens to take even the most basic of decisions away from the average Chinese. Woe be unto those brave souls who buck the system!

The most amazing insight from the above speculation about the blue-versus-white video confrontation was the blithe and unemotional attitude expressed by the supporter of the Chinese regime, who seemed to accept without concern that what transpired was a normal experience to be expected in communist China.

Heaven forbid that Americans ever experience similar complacency during future lockdowns in the United States. You just know that day is coming if the Democratic Party has its way.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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Stu Cvrk retired as a captain after serving 30 years in the U.S. Navy in a variety of active and reserve capacities, with considerable operational experience in the Middle East and the Western Pacific. Through education and experience as an oceanographer and systems analyst, Cvrk is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, where he received a classical liberal education that serves as the key foundation for his political commentary.