The Chinese Communist Party began early celebrations for the anniversary of allegedly successful lockdowns imposed on millions of people in “heroic” Wuhan, the home city of the Chinese coronavirus, on Saturday, amid a resurgence of the virus in some of the country’s biggest cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.
The outbreak, which has seen “de facto” lockdowns in at least 11 regions of the northeast in addition to the Shanghai and Hong Kong actions, began about two weeks after China organized a massive New Year’s Eve party for thousands of people in Wuhan, seen in photos reveling in tightly packed quarters. Public health experts have discouraged mass gatherings in nations where the virus is still circulation, but China nonetheless held the party and compared it favorably to cancellations of similar events in places like New York City.
In January 2020, the Chinese Communist Party — which evidence later revealed had information that indicated the spread of a contagious disease in Wuhan — allowed millions of people to leave the city and travel around the world. Prior to the lockdowns, but amid clear community spread of the virus, the Chinese government attempted to hold the world’s largest banquet, attended by 130,000 people eating family-style and sharing plates and silverware. The mayor of Wuhan, Zhou Xianwang, admitted at the time that 5 million people — almost half the population of the city — left Wuhan before the lockdowns were implemented.
Leaked footage out of Wuhan highlighted the brutality of the lockdowns. Officials appeared to weld doors of homes shut, trapping residents inside. Multiple reports surfaced of individuals with special needs, in some cases children, dying at home because they were not allowed to access medical care for conditions other than coronavirus. Many others committed suicide.
The Chinese government debuted a propaganda film this weekend in Wuhan cinemas, which are currently open, to celebrate the alleged success of the Wuhan lockdown. The film, Days and Nights in Wuhan, “features contributions from 30 filmmakers portraying the suffering and sacrifices made by the city’s 11 million residents, medical staff and front-line workers,” according to the South China Morning Post. The newspaper noted that the Chinese Communist Party is producing at least three documentaries to promote the idea that Wuhan’s handling of the outbreak was efficient and successful.
A study published in March by the University of Southampton’s WorldPop population mapping group found that, had Chinese, and particularly Wuhan, officials properly handled the coronavirus outbreak, they may have prevented as many as 95 percent of coronavirus cases in the country. Chinese officials insisted well into late January 2020 that there was no evidence for human-to-human transmission of the virus, though Taiwanese medical officials had already begun using isolation techniques on patients in late December 2019.
“We wanted to record the journey of battling against the Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] epidemic via motion picture. Some of the details, including the intense care, anxious waiting, heartbreaking farewells and hopeful rebirths, might strike a chord with viewers,” director Cao Jinling told Chinese state media.
The Global Times, a Chinese state propaganda outlet, accompanied the debut of the documentary with an extensive profile of several Wuhan “heroes” who effusively praised the government’s lockdown. The Global Times claimed the city’s residents were initially “puzzled” by the outbreak, but ultimately grew fanatical in their support of them after witnessing the alleged failures of the rest of the world, particularly America.
“When the city returned to bustling normal life in April, and Western countries, one by one, faced a more severe onslaught of the coronavirus, many Wuhan people, initially puzzled by their government’s decision to seal off the city, became staunch supporters of the decision,” the Times claimed. “The decision that has little parallel in modern society initially puzzled many locals, who soon turned into firm supporters of the strict management after seeing the city bounce back fast from its COVID-19 swoon while some Western countries, one-by-one, dragged their feet into coronavirus lulls.”
The Global Times claimed that China was “bouncing back fastest and strongest from the pandemic” as opposed to “countries like the US, which have been through several rounds of lockdowns” and continue to see cases of Chinese coronavirus.
“Those Western countries have no right to lambast Wuhan, with itself being dragged with high daily records. What are these ‘human rights’ they are always talking about? Keeping people alive is the most import part of human rights,” one of the alleged Wuhan residents, identified as “Chen,” is quoted as saying.
The Global Times piece did not mention the current nationwide outbreak of Chinese coronavirus ravaging China. In mid-January 2021, the Times itself reported that at least 11 regions in the northeast of the country had launched “de facto” lockdowns. Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, is experiencing one of the most severe outbreaks in the country, alongside the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jilin. Beijing itself is significantly limiting residents’ movements. Elsewhere, in Shanxi province, west of Beijing, authorities have begun preparing for another coronavirus surge.
This week, Shanghai began locking down densely populated neighborhoods to prevent the further spread of the virus. The formerly autonomous city of Hong Kong also appears to be preparing for major lockdowns in several neighborhoods that would trap tens of thousands of residents, the largest lockdown in the city since the outbreak began.