Covid lockdown: China censuring people’s pleas on social media amid food and medicine shortages

Lockdown Chinese complaining of food and medicine shortages have prompted authorities to censor their desperate pleas on social media platforms as the country’s draconian “zero-Covid” policy takes its toll.

At least 30 regions are under partial or total lockdown where tens of millions of people have been ordered to stay at home.

According to The Guardian, which cited a leaked directive published by the China Digital Times (CDT), censors have been ordered to flood social media with trivial posts about Xinjiang, a region closed for more than a month, to dilute complaints about food and medicine shortages.

“There are no subject restrictions. Content can include home life, daily parenting, cooking, or personal moods. All Internet comment staff should post once per hour (twice in total), but not in quick succession! Repeat: not in quick succession!” said the directive, according to CDT’s translation.

Authorities have been scrambling to contain local outbreaks ahead of China’s Communist Party Congress in October.

China’s zero-Covid policy requires strict lockdowns, even if only a handful of cases are reported. China reported 949 new cases of Covid on Monday, the BBC reported.

During the 40-day lockdown, people in the Kazakh autonomous prefecture of Ili in Xinjiang, near the border with Kazakhstan, desperate residents have made a fervent appeal for help on social media.

One post showed a video of an excited Uighur man saying his three children hadn’t eaten in three days.

In Ili, the capital of the northwestern city of Yining, a document shared online of more than 300 urgent requests for food, medicine and sanitary napkins went viral.

“I’m out of money to buy supplies. My wife is pregnant and we have two kids. We’re running out of gas. My wife needs a medical,” said one resident.

The region is home to Han Chinese, Kazakhs and Uighurs.

Similarly, in southwestern Guizhou province, officials locked down an area of ​​the provincial capital Guiyang without warning, leaving 500,000 residents stranded at home with no way to prepare to stockpile basic supplies.

According to The Guardian, elevators were cut off in the buildings to prevent people from leaving.

Reports of Chinese struggling for food and aid come a month after a long-awaited UN report accused Beijing of “serious human rights violations” against Uyghurs and other mainly Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

(With input from agencies)


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