China blocks WeChat message denouncing Covid policy as cases rise

The social media post has sparked a strong reaction from Chinese authorities who are struggling to contain the new wave of Covid.

China has long remained committed to its tough Covid Zero strategy, many months after the rest of the world pulled out and reopened after years of uncertainty.

As a result, millions of Chinese citizens have faced emergency draconian restrictions over the course of the pandemic, and now a new wave of cases has led to tighter regulations in some areas despite the government’s recent pledge to ease its Covid stance.

This week, an unnamed citizen took to the Chinese social network WeChat to criticize the nation’s Covid policy, lashing out at China’s refusal to follow the rest of the world’s lead and allow a return to normalcy.

But the post soon went viral after resonating with a population growing more and more frustrated with the government’s actions — only to have it removed by the authorities.

The poster was also banned from the platform after the post reached 100,000 views.

“The spectators at the World Cup in Qatar do not wear masks and are not required to carry PCR test results with them – aren’t they on the same planet as us? Isn’t the Covid virus hurting them?” the post asked, according to Bloomberg..

The author also shared a number of Covid policy demands, such as making Covid death rates public, comparing Covid deaths to flu deaths, and weighing the cost of Covid Zero if the virus is not defeated.

They also questioned the purpose of mass testing, the effectiveness of vaccines and how long Covid restrictions will last, and why neighboring Hong Kong was able to reopen without destroying its healthcare system.

Panic over rise in Covid cases

The latest wave came after Chinese leaders announced earlier this month that Covid policies would be more targeted going forward, in what many saw as a sign that restrictions were finally starting to ease.

Since then, however, control measures have actually been tightened up in areas such as Guangdong, Chongqing and Beijing as cases rise.

In fact, in Beijing, schools in some areas have been closed and entire apartment buildings have been put on lockdown again, resulting in a spike in demand for essentials on panic buying and grocery delivery apps.

Starting today, Zhengzhou, home to the largest iPhone factory on the planet, will effectively close for five days, while Shijiazhuang, near Beijing, has asked residents to stay at home to slow the spread.

The blocked WeChat post comes amid growing discontent in China, a country where public dissent is rare and quickly suppressed.

However, last month a lone protester went viral after publicly criticizing President Xi Jinping’s leadership and questioning strict Covid rules.

Peng Lifa was arrested shortly after he went to Beijing’s famous Xitong Bridge disguised as a construction worker and lit a fire to attract attention before hanging two banners and playing a pre-recorded protest song over a loudspeaker.

“Students strike, workers strike, overthrow dictator and state thief Xi Jinping,” one banner read, while another read: “We want to eat, not do coronavirus tests; reform, not a cultural revolution. We want freedom, not self-isolation; elections, not rulers. We want dignity, not lies. Be citizens, not enslaved people.”

Although Peng disappeared shortly thereafter, his message seemed to set off a stir in China and around the world, with members of the public adopting his slogans and reproducing them in public places.

But Mr Xi has repeatedly doubled down on his controversial Covid policy, insisting that it has cut Covid deaths despite the economic and personal impact.

Originally published as Viral post locked down as Chinese authorities grapple with rising number of Covid cases