‘I can’t believe our country is like this,’ and other conversations from the Shanghai lockdown

Domestic News

Today: An elderly man’s pleas get censored, a local protest goes viral, and more.

Police in hazmat suits try to quell a protest in Shanghai. Image via What’s on Weibo.

Earlier this week, a phone conversation between an elderly man and a neighborhood committee worker in Shanghai was posted to WeChat, where it briefly went viral before being censored.

In the five-minute call, a man surnamed Yu complains about his dwindling supplies of food and medicine, and his worries about his health: He says he is running a temperature, but he is not allowed to go see a doctor because of lockdown restrictions.

The neighborhood committee worker loses his cool, then apologizes. “I didn’t mean to raise my voice, but I’m also very anxious and angry,” he says. “We are powerless and we can’t do anything about it.” What began as a tense conversation ends with the two commiserating over their shared helplessness.

“I can’t believe our country is like this,” Yu says. “I also don’t know why Shanghai has become like this,” comes the reply.

You can listen to the conversation here, with a transcription and translation. Below is our new daily update from the Shanghai lockdown:

Another record-breaking high: Shanghai reported a new high of over 27,000 infections of COVID on Thursday, a day after Chinese leader Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 battened down on the nation’s long-held COVID-zero policy.

A local protest goes viral: Residents of New Pudong Area, a Shanghai neighborhood, were protesting before being dragged off by officers in medical suits, after the residents were notified that the makeshift quarantine location within their compound would be expanded. Online users have scribbled out parts of the images taken at the event in order to avoid automated censorship.

Journalists speak out: Nine reporters from the South China Morning Post who are currently in Shanghai open up about their experiences under lockdown. “When I see wild birds roosting on my balcony, I realize that it is still a living world,” one reporter said.

Patients get camping beds and bread: In a video of a quarantine facility, people who test positive for the virus lay on gray camping beds with their belongings strewn next to them. No showers and only a piece of bread are reportedly offered to the residents, who remain locked in one of dozens of places that have been quickly converted into quarantine centers to temper the ongoing outbreak.

Post-quarantine woes: Discharged patients are complaining of a range of issues after their release from quarantine facilities, from long wait times, trouble getting access to transportation, and — though officially prohibited — even resistance from their residential communities when they return.

Growing problems for Xi: As Shanghai residents seethe under lockdown, quelling the boiling anger before it spreads across the nation and creates a “crisis of confidence” in Party leadership will test Xi’s mettle, says Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, in Beijing: Some residents have started stockpiling food, after witnessing the chaos over food shortages during lockdown in Shanghai.


Follow our coverage of the Shanghai lockdown.

Nadya Yeh