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What do Chinese people think of the recent ban on foreigners?

Photo from Weibo post (in Chinese) on barring foreigners from entry: “The impact it has on me is that I won’t have to keep putting on protective gear every day.”

This article is adapted from Zhihu Digest, where author Thomas Garbarini examines each day’s top question on social media Q&A site Zhihu.com.


On March 28 the top question on Zhihu was, “What do you think of the recent ban on foreigners into China? What ramifications will this have?”

Below are some of the most upvoted answers to this question (all links in Chinese):

One of the top-voted answers with 9K upvotes is from a doctor who says, “The impact it has on me is that I won’t have to keep putting on protective gear every day.” He goes on to say that even though many medical workers in Wuhan are now recuperating, they are still battling the virus, and since the coronavirus is now breaking out overseas, more people entering China could mean more infections.

An answer with 11K upvotes says, “We should have done this a long time ago.” They go on to criticize the alliances of Western countries like America, who banned entry from many EU countries, Germany, who seized Swiss masks, Italy, who seized Swiss disinfectant, and so on. They single out citizens from small countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, saying that they are the ones least vigilant about the virus, and yet they come to China in the greatest numbers.

An answer with 9K upvotes comes from a Chinese person living in Australia. He strongly supports this policy, stating that it cost China a lot to defeat the threat of the coronavirus. He sees the pandemic as an excellent opportunity for China’s great revival because China will be able to resume its supply chains and production while the economies of the rest of the world are paralyzed. He also notes that now is a great time for many talented overseas Chinese to return to the motherland. In addition, he echoes a sentiment from the poster above, saying that China shouldn’t worry about trivialities and instead use the most severe measures possible to help the Chinese people and economy. The comments to this answer devolve into arguments about how many overseas Chinese don’t obey quarantine measures when they return to China.

An answer with 3K upvotes states that now, since China hasn’t seen any new cases for several days in a row, it is possibly one of the safest countries in the world at the moment, and this safety came at a great cost. If infected foreigners start pouring into China, all of China’s efforts would have been in vain. One of this answer’s comments reads, “China’s students and its economy can’t be put on hold any longer.”

An answer with 2K upvotes mentions the deplorable behavior of some foreigners coming into China who don’t know their place, run about everywhere, hold parties, conceal their symptoms, complain about their quarantine conditions, and go jogging outside. Many of these refer to recent stories in China, such as an Australian Chinese who was deported for refusing to stay in her home in Beijing because she wanted to go for a run, and the English husband of a Chinese woman who refused to self-quarantine in his community’s empty senior citizen recreation room. He also states that 10% of imported infections are from non-Chinese citizens, so this will reduce the pressure of customs officials to check incoming passengers.

Finally, a common sentiment in many of the answers and comments is mocking Chinese people who changed their citizenship. One comment with 2K upvotes reads, “This is the first time since the Tang dynasty that Chinese people are aware of the value of their citizenship… This is also the first time we haven’t treated foreigners as better than Chinese. We are prioritizing the treatment of our own people now. No matter what the cause was, or how many unforeseen factors were involved, this is a step in the right direction in any case.”

I’ve tried to be as impartial as possible by only including the most upvoted comments, as I believe this should most accurately reflect common sentiment. There are, of course, some people with more extreme views, but they didn’t usually have more than 200 upvotes, so I didn’t include them. Also, I went pretty far down the page and I couldn’t see anybody with a dissenting opinion or offering a different take on this.

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Thomas Garbarini

Thomas is a freelance translator specializing in Chinese literature, art, and culture. He runs the Chinese learning website zhihudigest.com.

4 Comments

  1. Ferdie Mostert Reply

    Most of the replies and comments include very basic and simple practical truths as motivation why us as foreigners should be controlled under very strict rules at this time… I find it hard to disagree with Chinese citizens on this. Still looking forward to returning to Chengdu when allowed, continue my long term contract and fulfill my obligations. Waiting patiently in South Africa until I am allowed

  2. Kieron Shepherd Reply

    Maybe China should have locked their borders to stop anyone leaving the country to contain the virus. It seemed like they wanted everyone else to get the virus so they weren’t the only ones affected by it. I remember trump wanting to ban Chinese from entering the country and China making a statement saying that he shouldn’t do that and he’s bringing fear. Now they are doing the same thing to foreigners. I don’t even like trump but it’s strange that they pushed for him not to do that when they are now doing the same thing.

  3. Dave L Rizoff Reply

    I agree with the doctors perception that he no longer requires POE’s, in that, now that two different strains of the Wuhan Corona have landed in Washington State and New York State leave the US in temporary crisis mode. He should be concerned for rollback.

    The banning of Foreigners also prevents decision makers within their China factories.

    So yea, “I see the writing on the wall”

    Only time will show and prove me right once again.

    Cheers.

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