“I’ve never seen that in China!” The train is totally empty! » This European expatriate for years in China, who “tried to move” out of his province last weekend, cannot believe his eyes. If he had been told one day that he would be practically the only passenger on the TGV Wuhan (Hubei province)-Canton (Guangdong province), he would have burst out laughing.
In a country of one and a half billion people, you are never alone anywhere and you line up everywhere. “But in a China under pressure from the coronavirus, the wildest dreams, like being alone on public transport, can come true. » For the worst possible reasons.
“Our country has become a prison-hospital”
Despite the triumphant and unanimous declarations of the official media in recent days proclaiming the “victory of the “zero Covid” policy”hundreds of millions of Chinese continue to live in confinement, briefly released, re-confined or locked in quarantine health centers.
“We were already living in a huge ideological prison, dares to release on an encrypted messaging a Shanghai university professor on the verge of a nervous breakdown after two months of total confinement. But today our country has become a prison-hospital. » In his eyes, while many Shanghai residents have been celebrating their regained freedom in recent days, more than half a million of them remain subject to movement restrictions, according to the town hall.
” The truth, he concludes, is that we live in the constant stress of tests, tests, tests and the color of our QR code which must be green to be free to circulate in the city. »
“With my children, we went to the shores of Lake Dian Shan to go camping”, testified Meng, 35, last week to the announcement of the lifting of many constraints. Not fooled, Meng took advantage of it right away.
“In my opinion, the decision to announce the end of the Shanghai lockdown was very political, she explains on encrypted messaging so as not to be detected by the security services. Shanghai could not experience confinement (61 days) longer than Wuhan’s (76 days) in 2020, this was not admissible for the Communist Party. But it’s not over because near my home, several residences have been reconfigured after the discovery of a few positive cases. »
Do not talk about “containment in Beijing”
The capital, Beijing, announced on Sunday June 5 the lifting of numerous anti-Covid restrictions, after a month of fear of confinement for its 22 million inhabitants. It was politically a matter of not talking about “Beijing lockdown”. The metropolis faced an epidemic rebound of Covid-19 at the end of April, with more than 1,900 positive cases. To curb the contagion, schools, non-essential businesses and public places closed in early May, while restaurants could only sell take-out. The inhabitants, tested daily or almost, were encouraged to work from home.
Two districts in the capital will nevertheless maintain the restrictions, said Beijing, which reported 19 positive cases on Sunday. The health authorities have also called for the “vigilance”with half of the provinces reporting an outbreak in the past seven days.
China continues to apply a zero Covid health strategy, which consists in particular of imposing quarantines and confinements as soon as a few cases appear. Arrived at Canton station after a few hours of travel, our European has to do a test again: “In China today, not only can the police arrest you because of your ideas deemed subversive, but also if you have a fever and if you are positive for Covid…”
Confinements in China: from Wuhan to Shanghai
January 23, 2020. The Chinese authorities place the 11 million inhabitants of Wuhan and the 60 million inhabitants of the entire province of Hubei in total quarantine.
April 8, 2020. End of Wuhan lockdown, after 76 days.
September 9. Xi Jinping says ” victory “ against the virus.
April 24, 2022. The Omicron variant pushes the authorities to place half of Shanghai in total confinement, then the entire city (25 million inhabitants) a week later.
1er June. Official end of the Shanghai confinement (61 days) but very strict controls.
June 6. Triumphant state media heralds “victory” for Xi Jinping’s zero Covid policy.