Frances Martel Videos surfacing on social media in the past week from Shanghai – and rapidly deleted on government-controlled sites like Weibo – show mounting desperation as a poorly planned coronavirus lockdown leaves the heart of China’s economy with rotting food and a lack of basic necessities.
Many of the videos surfacing on Weibo, China’s most popular micro-blogging platform, cannot be independently verified and disappear shortly after they appear, but translators outside of the country have saved and circulated them, painting a picture of a growing catastrophe alongside anonymous warnings from farms and food distributors that their supplies are rotting while people fear starvation because the Communist Party will not allow enough people to work to distribute the food.
The videos follow reports that Beijing deployed the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to patrol the city and keep people locked in their homes at gunpoint.
The Chinese Communist Party announced it would impose its “most stringent antivirus measures ever” on its largest city in late March, allegedly necessary to contain the highly infectious omicron variant of Chinese coronavirus.
The announcement followed hints in state media outlets that Beijing would not continue to impose its radical, mass house arrest policy in Shanghai due to the economic significance of the city, followed by condemnation of local officials for not acting to lock down the city sooner – an indication of discord between dictator Xi Jinping and his top officials in Shanghai.
“Ever since epidemic prevention and control became the norm, General Secretary Xi Jinping has personally directed the deployment of epidemic prevention and control work,” the state-run Xinhua news agency claimed in late March, “and established the general strategy to prevent imported cases and internal rebounds and the general policy of dynamic zero-Covid.”
The Chinese coronavirus first began infecting people in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, prompting a similarly brutal government lockdown in that city, but only after the mayor had allowed 5 million people to leave and spread the disease around the world, causing the currently ongoing pandemic.
In addition to the harrowing scenes that appear to show foot riots and trapped residents screaming out their windows in Shanghai, videos and testimony emerged last week that China is hauling untold numbers of Shanghai residents to poorly managed quarantine camps, separating parents from young children who test positive. Videos allegedly from the facilities also surfacing on Chinese social media showed multiple infants tossed into small cribs and alongside toddlers, all with very minimal supervision.
Australia’s ABC reproduced several videos from Shanghai social media on Monday appearing to show screaming from high-rise apartment buildings. One video, which Breitbart News could not independently verify, appeared to show a mob of people shouting “hand out the supplies!” referring to food, and attacking police in front of an apartment complex in the Jiuting area of Shanghai.
Australia’s News.com.au similarly compiled several videos from Chinese social media. One appears to show a desperate crowd fighting over boxes of basic supplies; another shows a large crowd confronting Communist Party officers in blue hazmat suits, apparently trying to break through a cordon seeking food and supplies.
Multiple videos showing simply darkened apartment buildings at night, but recording the sound of screaming from the individual units visible, have also appeared on Weibo and other state media outlets. In one particularly harrowing video sourced from Weibo, a government drone allegedly flies overhead attempting to subdue the screaming and, in some cases, singing. Breitbart News could not independently verify the authenticity of the videos.
Reports from Shanghai last week indicated similar shouting in response to a visit from Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, one of dictator Xi Jinping’s closest Politburo members who has taken on a role of administering lockdowns in major cities.
“When Sun Chunlan, a vice premier of the Chinese regime, visited Shanghai earlier this week, where tens of millions are under [Chinese coronavirus] lockdown, she was greeted by residents shouting from their apartment windows: ‘There is no food left!’ and ‘We are starving to death!,’” the Epoch Times reported. The incident recalled a similar one in Wuhan in March 2020, when locked down residents heckled Sun from their windows as she walked the empty streets of the city.
Also indicating widespread inability to contain Shanghai’s population of 26 million people are videos showing government officials beating civilians in the street. The videos are not dated and, once again, unverified, but international news outlets have confirmed they originated in Shanghai during the current lockdown.
Reports citing farmers near the metropolis indicate that Shanghai is not running out of food, but the government has failed to implement a competent distribution mechanism and lacks the manpower to ensure food deliveries, given that the vast majority of city residents are banned from leaving their homes indefinitely.
“We know folks downtown need their food. We have it here, but we can’t get it out,” a farmer identified only as “Mr. Yuan” told the South China Morning Post. “Some volunteers at checkpoints wouldn’t even recognize our road permits and wouldn’t let us pass.”
The few who have received vegetable shipments have shared images showing the produce wilting or rotting, a sign that it had taken days, if not weeks, for the government to get the food to its intended recipients since procuring it.
Communist officials have attempted to insist publicly that Shanghai does not have a food shortage problem.
“Shanghai has sufficient reserves of supplies such as rice and meat, and additional food supplies could be transported from other regions when there’s a need,” Shanghai Vice Mayor Chen Tong said last Thursday, according to the government newspaper Global Times. “Supermarkets and vegetable farms can’t operate normally and there has been reduced delivery capacity of e-commerce platforms due to epidemic prevention, leading challenges in distribution and deliveries.”
The remark appeared to be an indictment of government operations and belying increasingly visible tension between Shanghai and Beijing. Beijing dispatched Sun Chunlan to Shanghai last week to ensure that local officials were not defying Xi’s orders to fully implement a lockdown there, even in its most lucrative business sectors. Meeting with local leaders, Sun “urged the city to adopt stricter attitude, more thorough measures, and swifter actions, to ratchet up building of makeshift hospitals, expand isolation venues, and strictly follow guidelines,” according to the Global Times.
The Times notably credited Sun with chastizing Shanghai officials to work harder to “plug loopholes, guarantee people’s life necessities and medical needs, and ensure smooth operation of ports and the supply chain industry.”