Shanghai's rage could spark a fire

Chinês faz teste de coronavírus na rua, em meio ao bloqueio da Covid-19 em andamento em Xangai, nesta quinta-feira

Chinese man takes coronavirus test on the street, amid Covid lockdown – in progress in Shanghai, this Thursday| Photo: EFE/EPA/ALEX PLAVEVSKI

Shanghai has been considered the most civilized city in China. The county’s GDP per capita ranks first in the country, and until recently, the people of Shanghai prided themselves on their high levels of sophistication and modernity. But no more. Since March, the city has descended into chaos, with many residents living in squalor and struggling for access to food and other basic resources as they try to survive under Xi Jinping’s “zero-Covid” policy.

The new wave of infections of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 was much less deadly than the original outbreak in Wuhan. Chinese authorities have reported no deaths from Covid, and only nine people who tested positive were in a serious condition. The overwhelming majority of infections between March 1st and 12 of April was asymptomatic. Epidemiologists and other pandemic experts – including Dr. Wenhong Zhang, who leads the Shanghai Covid task force – urged central authorities not to impose a lockdown or other draconian measures, but to accept the reality of coexistence between humans and the virus. China’s central government, insisting that the Covid number be zero, has plunged Shanghai into a man-made disaster.

The violent enforcement of Beijing’s zero Covid policy has killed far more people in the city than the virus. According to an inaccurate estimate, which uses crowdsourcing

to register this type of death, the death toll in Shanghai reached 36 in 24 Of april. The actual number could be much higher. Some victims died at the front gates of hospitals that denied access to medical care, some jumped from buildings to die and others simply hanged themselves on the stairs of their apartments. Victims include nurses, musicians and teachers as well as children.

Under the order of the central government to reduce, in the shortest time and at any cost, new Covid cases to zero, Shanghai residents faced unprecedented neglect, mistreatment and abuse. Videos leaked on social media show CCP enforcers in white medical isolation gowns beating people, taking them away or welding doors and closing entrances with metal bars. There are also makeshift quarantine camps where tens of thousands of people are detained. In these hellish camps, men and women, adults and children, are crammed together under one roof, with insufficient food and other basic necessities unmet. Indeed, many residents who survived the Great Famine and the tumultuous Cultural Revolution are now starving in China’s most prosperous city.

These blatant human rights violations, masquerading as “pandemic prevention” measures, exposed the cruel and inhumane side of Communist China’s system, as well as its tendencies towards rigid governance and ineffective. This awakened people’s awareness of their political and civil rights. In Shanghai and elsewhere in China, more and more people are standing up and speaking up for themselves and their communities.

Angry Shanghai residents began staging defiant acts of civil disobedience in protest of Beijing’s brutality. Some dismantle barbed wire fences, others bang their pots on porches. In the video Voz de Abril, the Shanghai residents depict the people’s endless suffering under the zero Covid policy. The video went viral despite the CCP’s tight censorship. Shanghai rapper Astro has released a song, “New Slave”, to criticize the government’s abuse of power and its neglect of human life. More and more people came out to sing the national anthem – in particular the line “Stand up! You who refuse to be slaves!” Ironically, this led Chinese authorities to censor their own national anthem. Some local party bosses resigned and members of the neighborhood committee resigned. Shanghai residents have formed a self-help and self-government commission, unequivocally demanding democracy and freedom, and calling for mass civil disobedience until Beijing ends its inhumane Covid-zero policy. On the night of in April , people in many districts of Shanghai took to the streets to protest.

Shanghai is not the only Chinese municipality where residents are furious at the regime’s violation of human rights. According to a Chinese report, from 36 large cities and medium size in China, 36 (about 12%) have confirmed new cases since March . All are implementing the aggressive zero Covid policy. We heard calls and cries for help from other cities. Xi Jinping’s mismanagement of China’s pandemic control today is just as bad, if not worse, than his handling of the initial outbreak in Wuhan in


THE Chinese government has characterized its aggressive zero Covid policy as necessary in the great struggle against the West, to prove the superiority of the Chinese socialist system, which will determine the fate of the CCP. But in reality, like all dictators, Xi adamantly refuses to admit his mistakes. This could shake his authority, especially after claiming that China’s “success” in containing the virus was his greatest personal achievement and that he deserves a gold medal for it. Xi wanted to use his (apparent) success in defeating the novel coronavirus to prove his wisdom and greatness and demonstrate that he deserves a third term as China’s leader. Behind all the brutality and arrogance is a dictator’s desire for unlimited power to control people and society, to satisfy his personal ambition and vanity.

We believe that Xi Jinping’s mismanagement of the pandemic proved that he is incapable of being the country’s leader and continuing to rule China. He put his own will and interests and the security of the regime above all else, not caring about the lives of ordinary Chinese people. The Biden government must condemn the CCP’s violence and not remain silent about Beijing’s gross human rights violations during the pandemic. We urge the United States and the international community to stand up and speak out in support of the people of Shanghai and China, with the aim of ending the atrocities of the Communist Party.

From the Shanghai resistance, we see a spark of hope behind all the suffering. That spark could ignite a flame and spark a massive civil disobedience movement for the freedom of the Chinese people. The US should lend a hand to this resistance at this time of need.

Liancho Han is vice president of Citizen Energy Initiatives for China. After the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, he was the founder of the Independent Federation of Students and Scholars Chinese. He served in the US Senate for twelve years as a legislative adviser and policy director for three senators. Jianli Yang2427 is Founder and Chairman of Citizen Power Initiatives for China and author of For us the living: A journey to shed light on truth .

©1989 National Review. Published with permission. 2427Original in English 2427.

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