EXCLUSIVE: Concerned About Embarrassing CCP at Olympics, Chinese Official Ordered Harsh Measures to Contain COVID-19

Six weeks away from the Beijing Olympics, as the Chinese city of Xi’an was under total lockdown over a severe COVID outbreak, the region’s top official ordered authorities to double down on harsh containment measures—fearing that a spillover could affect the Games and harm the communist regime’s image. That’s according to an internal speech given by the governor of the north-central province of Shaanxi, whose capital is Xi’an, on Dec. 24, a transcript (pdf) of which was obtained by The Epoch Times. Noting the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics in early February, the province’s top official, Zhao Yide, said that a spread of the outbreak would “create chaos to the overall situation of the country, and smear the national image.” Zhao, in a virtual speech given to the region’s health officials, ordered that “the toughest measures” to be put in place to halt the transmission of the virus from Xi’an. His speech came a day after the city’s 13 million residents were put into lockdown as authorities reported the country’s worst COVID-19 figures in 21 months. Such official figures, however, are likely to not reflect true infection rates given the Chinese Communist Party’s practice of suppressing negative information to maintain its image. The governor’s 5,300-word speech focused on using “tough” and “strict” measures to “block the chain of transmission.” It only briefly mentioned the need to ensure the citizenry’s daily supplies, so as to ensure the “overall stability” of society. He did not broach the issue of medical care or the emotional wellbeing of the locked-down residents. A staff member is being given a nucleic acid test for the COVID-19 at the gym of a company in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei Province on Aug. 5, 2021. (STR/AFP via Getty Images) Public Anger and Censorship The city’s harsh measures, implemented under the regime’s “zero-COVID” policy, have since triggered an oupouring of public anger and despair, as residents took to social media to voice their struggles in gaining access to food supplies and medical care. “It’s been more than 20 days and [local authorities] has sent food once—just once,” a netizen wrote in a Jan. 9 social media post, worrying about his friends who were also locked in their home. As is routine for events that reflect unfavorably on the communist regime, China’s online censors have swooped in to suppress such negative content. The Xi’an Municipal Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, in another internal document (pdf) obtained by The Epoch Times, said on Dec. 28 it would “strengthen the real-time monitoring of public opinion during the Winter Olympics and holiday seasons,” in a bid to “reduce the negative impact.” On Jan. 5, some locals received an “important announcement” on WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging platform, warning them that their chat groups were being actively monitored, according to screenshots shared with Radio Free Asia. “Rumors” and outbreak-related videos were strictly banned from the chats, the announcement stated, adding that any spread of “negative news” would trigger an account suspension. The internal documents show that the provincial government took the success of the Winter Olympics as the top political objective, which Beijing has pledged to be “safe and grand,”   China affairs commentator Li Linyi told the Chinese-language edition of Epoch Times. “When the Chinese Communist Party was pushing extreme pandemic prevention measures, it was thinking about the Party’s image, rather than the lives of the people,” he said. “It’s anti-human, and social control exacted at the cost of trampling on the lives and dignity of the Chinese people,” he added. A maintenance worker walks through an empty section of spectator stands near a logo for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing on Oct. 10, 2021. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo) Harsh Measures Since the start of the lockdown on Dec. 23, Xi’an residents have flooded social media with tales of despair and hardship resulting from the city’s strict control measures. A heavily pregnant woman miscarried outside of a hospital on New Year’s Day after the hospital refused her care over her negative COVID result that was invalid for a few hours. Other miscarriages occurring in similar circumstances and stories of heavily-ill patients being denied care have been shared on social media, drawing public outcry. “Shouldn’t life come first?” wrote a netizen on China’s Twitter-like Weibo. As public anger swelled, Chinese Communist Party officials issued a rare public apology in relation to the woman’s case. On Jan. 6, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said she was “deeply ashamed” over the mistreatment, while Liu Shunzhi, the city’s health commission director, bowed in apology over its handling of the case. Governor Zhao, who gave the earlier speech, also called on authorities to prioritize people’s lives and physical health. However, the same day, the Chinese

EXCLUSIVE: Concerned About Embarrassing CCP at Olympics, Chinese Official Ordered Harsh Measures to Contain COVID-19

Six weeks away from the Beijing Olympics, as the Chinese city of Xi’an was under total lockdown over a severe COVID outbreak, the region’s top official ordered authorities to double down on harsh containment measures—fearing that a spillover could affect the Games and harm the communist regime’s image.

That’s according to an internal speech given by the governor of the north-central province of Shaanxi, whose capital is Xi’an, on Dec. 24, a transcript (pdf) of which was obtained by The Epoch Times.

Noting the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics in early February, the province’s top official, Zhao Yide, said that a spread of the outbreak would “create chaos to the overall situation of the country, and smear the national image.”

Zhao, in a virtual speech given to the region’s health officials, ordered that “the toughest measures” to be put in place to halt the transmission of the virus from Xi’an.

His speech came a day after the city’s 13 million residents were put into lockdown as authorities reported the country’s worst COVID-19 figures in 21 months. Such official figures, however, are likely to not reflect true infection rates given the Chinese Communist Party’s practice of suppressing negative information to maintain its image.

The governor’s 5,300-word speech focused on using “tough” and “strict” measures to “block the chain of transmission.” It only briefly mentioned the need to ensure the citizenry’s daily supplies, so as to ensure the “overall stability” of society. He did not broach the issue of medical care or the emotional wellbeing of the locked-down residents.

CHINA-HEALTH-VIRUS
A staff member is being given a nucleic acid test for the COVID-19 at the gym of a company in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei Province on Aug. 5, 2021. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Public Anger and Censorship

The city’s harsh measures, implemented under the regime’s “zero-COVID” policy, have since triggered an oupouring of public anger and despair, as residents took to social media to voice their struggles in gaining access to food supplies and medical care.

“It’s been more than 20 days and [local authorities] has sent food once—just once,” a netizen wrote in a Jan. 9 social media post, worrying about his friends who were also locked in their home.

As is routine for events that reflect unfavorably on the communist regime, China’s online censors have swooped in to suppress such negative content.

The Xi’an Municipal Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, in another internal document (pdf) obtained by The Epoch Times, said on Dec. 28 it would “strengthen the real-time monitoring of public opinion during the Winter Olympics and holiday seasons,” in a bid to “reduce the negative impact.”

On Jan. 5, some locals received an “important announcement” on WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging platform, warning them that their chat groups were being actively monitored, according to screenshots shared with Radio Free Asia. “Rumors” and outbreak-related videos were strictly banned from the chats, the announcement stated, adding that any spread of “negative news” would trigger an account suspension.

The internal documents show that the provincial government took the success of the Winter Olympics as the top political objective, which Beijing has pledged to be “safe and grand,”   China affairs commentator Li Linyi told the Chinese-language edition of Epoch Times.

“When the Chinese Communist Party was pushing extreme pandemic prevention measures, it was thinking about the Party’s image, rather than the lives of the people,” he said.

“It’s anti-human, and social control exacted at the cost of trampling on the lives and dignity of the Chinese people,” he added.

China Beijing COVID Positives
A maintenance worker walks through an empty section of spectator stands near a logo for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the National Speed Skating Oval in Beijing on Oct. 10, 2021. (Mark Schiefelbein/AP Photo)

Harsh Measures

Since the start of the lockdown on Dec. 23, Xi’an residents have flooded social media with tales of despair and hardship resulting from the city’s strict control measures.

A heavily pregnant woman miscarried outside of a hospital on New Year’s Day after the hospital refused her care over her negative COVID result that was invalid for a few hours.

Other miscarriages occurring in similar circumstances and stories of heavily-ill patients being denied care have been shared on social media, drawing public outcry.

“Shouldn’t life come first?” wrote a netizen on China’s Twitter-like Weibo.

As public anger swelled, Chinese Communist Party officials issued a rare public apology in relation to the woman’s case. On Jan. 6, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said she was “deeply ashamed” over the mistreatment, while Liu Shunzhi, the city’s health commission director, bowed in apology over its handling of the case. Governor Zhao, who gave the earlier speech, also called on authorities to prioritize people’s lives and physical health.

However, the same day, the Chinese regime dismissed an official who criticized Xi’an authorities’ harsh lockdown measures in a social media post. He described publicly reported cases of residents taking extreme measures to escape the lockdown, including a 31-year-old who walked in the cold for eight days and night to go back to his hometown. The official’s post was designated as a “rumor” and removed from the internet.

While Xi’an authorities declared that the outbreak was under control on Jan. 5, a portion of the city’s residents are still under lockdown. Some residents recently told The Epoch Times that they have been sealed inside their homes with a dwindling food supply.

Long Tengyun contributed to this report.

Rita Li

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Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.