Chinese censors on Monday deleted a social media post listing over 150 people who purportedly died in Shanghai because of the coronavirus lockdown – not from the virus itself, but from other medical conditions they could not obtain treatment for, or because they committed suicide.
Communist Party operatives reportedly deleted the Shanghai death list from Chinese social media, but a San Francisco-based, blockchain-protected cloud collaboration service called Airtable preserved a copy beyond their reach. The censors had to settle for blocking Chinese searches for the URL of the Airtable copy.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) described the banned documentation:
“They did not die of COVID-19, but because of it,” the introduction to the list on the Airtable collaboration platform — which uses blockchain technology — said. “They should neither be ignored, nor forgotten.”
The site showed “incomplete numbers” of more than 152 people whose deaths were believed to be directly linked to the CCP’s zero-COVID policy and stringent lockdowns that have dragged on in Shanghai for weeks.
Among dozens of others, the list names Qian Wenxiong, a former official at the Hongkou district maternal and child health center, as having committed suicide; Zhou Shengni, a nurse at the Dongfang Hospital, as having died of an asthma attack; Wei Guiguo, vice president of Netcom Securities, as having died of a cerebral hemorrhage; and “Captain Zhao,” a security guard at the Changning Hongkang Phase III residential community, as having died of overwork.
Several of the suicides reported on the list involved people leaping to their deaths from Shanghai’s many tall buildings, a phenomenon that foreign media has discussed but the Chinese government has assiduously covered up.
RFA also reported a Shanghai-based rapper named Fang Lue was pressured to delete a video of his song about the lockdown, entitled “New Slave.”
The song went viral in defiance of a general Chinese Communist ban on hip-hop music and a rising tide of more recent censorship directed at any reference to lockdown captives as “slaves,” an imperative that even led the Chinese government to censor its own national anthem.
“When freedom of thought and will are imprisoned by power… when people who aren’t sick are locked up at home and treated as if they are sick, yet those who are truly sick can’t get into a hospital… it stinks; the stench of rotting souls fills the air,” Fang Lue rapped.
“I was told that there have been some reposts and appropriations of my song on other social platforms, alongside messages that are a long way from what I wanted, so I have deleted my public video of New Slave on YouTube,” he said, much less defiantly, when deleting his video.
RFA noted censorship in Shanghai has grown so oppressive that puckish protesters are cutting to the chase by brandishing signs emblazoned with censorship notices instead of protest slogans.
A few brave souls are still making online references to the banned Shanghai death list, calling out fake propaganda from the government, and criticizing “zero-Covid” lockdown policies.
The police are cracking down by arresting such critics as subversives, as in the case of internationally lauded human rights activist Liu Feiyue, who spent five years in prison in the 2010s for criticizing the oppression of dissidents, and is now being grilled by Shanghai police for supposedly undermining zero-Covid policy.
Fortune on Tuesday quoted analysts who predicted China’s wave of coronavirus lockdowns would expand further, despite growing outrage in Shanghai, and the impact on global shipping and finance could be even worse than the lockdowns of 2020 – especially if a logjam of stalled orders cripples global supply chains after the lockdowns are lifted.
“The supply-chain situation in Shanghai continues to worsen. The port is running out of capacity for some types of cargo as importers cannot collect their goods. With the outbreak in Guangzhou also leading to shutdowns there, the impact on export volumes out of China will grow larger,” CEO Lars Jensen of shipping consultancy Vespucci Maritime warned on Friday.