Shanghai on Saturday reported 12 more Covid-19 deaths and a sharp rise in local infections as residents of the financial hub found ways to evade online censorship to voice their frustration regarding the nearly month-long lockdown.
The frustration of residents of Shanghai is bubbling over with the government ruling out easing restrictions until all cases have been cleared out outside quarantine zones.
A six-minute video titled Voice of April, describing the lockdown experience in Shanghai, has been widely circulating on Chinese social media despite censorship.
People have found creative ways to share the video, which is a collation of government announcements and grievances aired by residents, on social media to evade Chinese censors that keep deleting versions of it.
“‘Voices of April is the biggest topic in China’s Covid social media era since the death of Dr. Li Wenliang,” the website whatsonweibo reported, referring to a whistleblower who was arrested by Chinese police after he had shared information about the coronavirus with friends on social media.
He later died of Covid-19 in February 2020, leading to an outpouring of public grief on social media rarely seen in China.
“Voices of April is a video containing edited audio snippets that show the reality of a Covid-stricken Shanghai where residents struggle with feelings of powerlessness. The video seeped into every corner of WeChat, but not long after, it was gone,” the report said.
The video was also shared many times on Twitter and YouTube.
The video ends with the message, “Get Better soon, Shanghai.”
The overwhelming response to the video – and the fact that many citizens didn’t care about censorship and shared it anyway – resulted in Hu Xijin, former editor of the tabloid Global Times come out in support of censorship.
“Expression on the Chinese Internet is much more effective than in the West. While China censors and deletes your posts, the contents and sentiments are closely monitored and acted upon by the government. In the West, you can say whatever you want but no one cares,” he wrote in Mandarin on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo.
Hu said Chinese citizens should trust the government and remain confident in China’s resilience in fighting the Covid-19 outbreak.
Shanghai, which is battling China’s biggest coronavirus outbreak so far, logged 20,634 new local asymptomatic infections for Friday, an increase of 5,000 from the day before.
New symptomatic cases also increased, reaching 2,736, up from 1,931 on April 21, official data showed.
Shanghai health authorities said the average age of patients who died was 88, all had underlying health conditions and none had been vaccinated.
The toll in Shanghai now stands at 48 with all deaths reported this week.
The Shanghai government has said lockdown measures will not be relaxed until new cases outside of quarantine areas have all been cleared.
“The more critical the period becomes, the more we need to grit our teeth and focus our strength,” Shanghai mayor Gong Zheng was quoted as saying on Shanghai’s official government WeChat channel late on Friday.