These videos supposedly show COVID-19 positive individuals in Shanghai and their close contacts defending themselves from healthcare workers wearing all-white personal protective suits, colloquially known as “Big Whites.” (Related: Shanghai residents are being ASSAULTED by authorities for not complying with COVID-19 lockdowns.)
In one of the videos that are being scrubbed from Chinese social media platforms, two Big Whites can be seen dragging away a woman inside a residential compound.
In another video posted on WeChat, a Big White is seen using a loudspeaker to warn that if even one person in an apartment building tests positive for COVID-19, everybody living in the same building will be considered close contacts and forced into isolation.
Many other videos circulating on Chinese social media show Big Whites banging on doors of apartments and taking their occupants to quarantine. Most of these videos appear to have been deleted by Chinese censors.
Chinese censors scrambling to overcome wave of dissent from lockdown frustration
Since the fresh wave of lockdowns in China began, residents have taken to using the Chinese internet to express their discontent with the government.
Unfortunately, China does not recognize the right to free speech, and thousands of images, videos and other posts detailing everyday life in Shanghai during lockdown are unable to make it past China’s elaborate and advanced censors.
One video that made its way into Western social media networks features an official’s voice coming out of a neighborhood’s loudspeaker system, warning residents not to protest against the lockdown, claiming that backlash toward the lockdown policy is a “conspiracy initiated by external forces.”
“We hope everyone can distinguish right from wrong and express reasonable demands in the right way,” shouted the voice.
Many of the other videos show Shanghai residents filling their neighborhoods with noise by screaming out of their windows and banging pots and pans, demanding that authorities provide them with food and supplies. Other videos show people yelling demands for freedom.
“What we see online is a very small amount of the information available, and the fact is, most people are not speaking out as much as they probably would like to,” said Dali Yang, a sinologist at the University of Chicago.
But many more Shanghai residents have been devising ways to share their experiences and evade the Great Firewall.
One video that made it past the censors, titled “Voices of April,” consists of a montage of audio recordings from Shanghai residents. The audio includes people demanding basic necessities, recordings of crying babies being separated from their parents and people pleading for hospitals to take in their family members on the verge of death.
Ting Guo, a scholar of Chinese studies at the University of Toronto, noted that Shanghai is one of China’s foremost cultural and technological hubs. This means the city has “all the resources and talents so it didn’t come as a surprise to see the kind of expression online.”
“The exhibition or demonstration of such creativity isn’t unique to Shanghai,” said Guo. “Over the years, in other parts of China, not just large cities, we always see a very creative and courageous demonstration of ideas and some other forms of activism.”
“If a place has a higher social media penetration rate, it will also have a larger population online. In smaller places in China, even when something is happening, relevant information might often be removed before it is shared with the outside world. But in Shanghai, it will be harder to censor sensitive information online immediately,” said Li-Peng Liu, a censorship expert and analyst for China Digital Times.
“If only 200,000 people are expressing their opinions online, the content operators can easily censor that content,” added Liu. “But when there are 25 million people [like in Shanghai], the censorship regime will be overwhelmed.”
For the latest news about the COVID-19 situation in China, visit CommunistChina.news.
Watch this clip from “The Highwire” as host Del Bigtree and co-host Jefferey Jaxen talk about the lockdowns in China, which may spread to Beijing.
More related stories: