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China is in a Covid mess, but not because of the virus. Two videos show the reality

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadNov 01, 2022 | 14:29

China is in a Covid mess, but not because of the virus. Two videos show the reality

Xi Jinping's zero-Covid policy has turned lives in China upside down. Photo: Getty Images

The world is learning to let go of face masks as the Covid-19 situation has improved significantly. But, in China, the story is very different. Videos of people fleeing factories, walking along the highway for miles to reach their homes, and getting stranded for days in the most unusual of places are going viral.

Such scenes bring back the haunting memories of 2020 from various parts of the world including India.  In China, these scenes are still very common.

The reason: The Chinese Communist Party's zero-Covid policy. 

Remember when Chinese Premier Xi Jinping said there is no going back on the policy anytime soon during the recently concluded National Congress gathering? 

Now, two particular videos reveal the horrors of Xi Jinping's zero-Covid policy:

Video 1: iPhone factory workers escape

  • Hundreds if not thousands of factory workers from Foxconn in Zhengzhou City, Henan province scaled fenced walls to escape from the premises, videos showed.
  • The factory workers were also seen walking tens of miles towards their hometowns along the highway, dragging along their luggage.
  • They couldn't even take public transport for the most part due to the fear of being tracked by authorities. 

Why did they flee? According to reports, the factory area has been put under a severe Covid lockdown. 

  • Factories under locked-down cities can still function given that they operate on a closed-loop policy. 
  • The closed-loop policy requires factory workers to live on-site and work. Remember when Elon Musk praised Chinese workers for sleeping at the factory and burning the 3 am oil? Exactly like that. 
  • However, workers have claimed dreadful living conditions, with employees being forced into dormitories with 6-7 people. 
  • Moreover, the factory also needs to test its workers for Covid-19 on a daily basis. Those who test positive are placed in a separate room. 
  • Workers claimed that they are not being provided with the most basic food essentials and other requirements, especially for those who test positive. 

The scary angle: Soon after the escape videos went viral, another video claiming to be taken from outside a Foxconn dormitory said that Covid positive workers confined into isolation had died due to lack of food and basic necessities in Room 726. 

Response of Foxconn: The Taiwanese global manufacturer of Apple iPhones said that they are not stopping workers from leaving. 

  • They also quadrupled the daily bonuses for workers who will remain on the premises and work in an effort to quell discontent.

Video 2: Shanghai Disneyland becomes a jail

  • People dream of going to Disneyland. But seldom do they dream of getting stranded at Disneyland morphing their childhood dreams into trauma. 
  • Hundreds of visitors have been stranded at Shanghai Disneyland after authorities closed the gates.
  • The gates were shut after 10 locally transmitted cases were detected in Shanghai. Authorities have told visitors that they need to show a negative Covid test before they can leave. 
  • Moreover, visitors who visited the park since Thursday need to show negative Covid tests three times, for three consecutive days. 
  • And what does Covid testing mean? According to China Daily, in one case of a visitor testing positive for Covid, 706 people were categorised as "close contacts" and 141 were categorised as "secondary contacts", all of whom were quarantined. 
  • Shanghai Disneyland had opened just two days earlier with a reduced capacity before it was shut down again. There is no notice of when it will reopen again.  
  • There is one positive outcome: Rides at the park will continue to operate. So, you can be miserable but go on rides. 

This sort of situation is not too uncommon in China. Videos had gone viral earlier showing Chinese people trying to flee stores, shops, and famously an IKEA store to escape being trapped over the Covid shutdown. 

On the other hand, Chinese netizens on Douyin (Chinese TikTok) have adopted an unusual way to protest against the unpopular Covid policy - by grooving to late Indian musician Bappi Lahiri's Jimmy Jimmy song from 1982 film Disco Dancer.

The only change is that "Jimmy Jimmy" has become "Jie mi, jie mi" which, loosely translated from Mandarin is, "Give me rice, give me rice". 

Chinese people during long lockdowns have struggled with stocking up on essential supplies, with some running out of basic food items. So far, the protest has escaped the axe of China's censors.

Last updated: November 01, 2022 | 15:48
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