Democracy Cast In Shadows: The Horrifying Reality of Lockdown Procedures in China


REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

In Beijing, security in protective suits stand in front of a building under lockdown.

Trigger Warning: Death, Illness, Suicide

The people of Guiyang, China weren’t prepared for the lockdown. Starvation permeated the city air as people cried out of hunger; the empty streets were painted with a greyscale shade of hopelessness. On September 9th, police found 19 year old Yu Moumou’s lifeless body on the ground – after talking with her family, she reportedly leaped out of a bathroom window and fell to her death.

Such horrifying tales are a reality in China’s “zero-COVID” policy, held for three years to attain near-complete suppression of COVID-19 transmission. The Chinese President’s historic third term to lead the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is marked by an unwavering commitment to eradicating COVID cases in China. 

Driven by the President’s new policy, China’s lockdowns have been draconian and erratic; they’ve starved citizens, truncated healthcare, recessed the economy, even stirring dissent – and the OHS Community has been vocal about it.

One OHSer says that “when my grandma flew back to China, she was confined in a hotel room for a whole month – she coudn’t even go outside, not even to eat…The name of the country is ‘People’s Republic of China,’ but it really isn’t up to the people, is it?”

Another student shares a family experience with a visa: “People were really sick of the lockdown restrictions . . . every non-citizen’s visa was revoked and one of the only ways to enter is through applying for an emergency visa …In my family’s case, it was for family emergency: my mom had to get a note from my grandma’s doctor . . . and even then it took a long time to get the visa and it was only valid for three months.”

Firefighters extinguishing a residential building in Urumqi (UGS, via Associated Press)

A few months ago, a fire incident ignited outcry at the Chinese government’s minute control of its people’s lifestyles. 

Ali Abbas’ granddaughter was charging her tablet when an electrical issue smoked the family’s household; flames soon began to spread. Though Abbas’ family was able to evacuate, this wasn’t the case others in the apartment complex – Urumqi was under strict surveillance and lockdown – and people were caged into the burning building.

“After that fire incident, my relatives became really fed up,” an OHS 7th Grader says. “Some of my cousins went out to protest . . . even for the older people, meeting basic needs has become so difficult.” 

The recent injuries and deaths brought on by controlling policy have sparked opposition among Chinese citizens – they’ve challenged Mr. Xi’s protocol. Now, China has abruptly let go of the lockdown procedures, and COVID has been rampant.

A student explains the situation in China: “Now, the government stopped all the lockdown, quarantine, and COVID tests . . . There was a huge outbreak – a lot of people got COVID within a month of the release of the zero-COVID policy”

Another OHS senior says that “within two weeks, my entire family and pretty much everyone we knew had COVID . . . then they started running out of medicine, space in hospitals, etc. My mom told me that at one point, the hospital fever ward line was 1 km long . . . at one point there wasn’t even space to cremate bodies.”

“The Chinese government is opening everything back up all at once to a point where everyone will probably get COVID . . . I’ve heard of even surgeons who literally caught the disease performing on patients,” says an 8th Grade OHSer. “It’s seriously mind-blowing how hypocritical the government is, one minute they want everyone to do this and a moment later they want them to do the opposite.”

Maybe conditions will one day improve and tragedies will ease for the people who are suffering at this very moment – listening to lifeless beeps in filled emergency rooms – but for now, all we can do is hope for the best.

May these departed souls rest in peace, and may the people of China stay safe in the face of catastrophe.