Hundreds of residents of Yingcheng, Hubei – the epicenter of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China – organized a protest against the arrest of a man selling fresh, affordable food as an alternative to the Communist Party’s old, overpriced offerings, the South China Morning Post reported this weekend.
Wuhan is the capital of Hubei, about an hour from Yingcheng, according to the Post. Wuhan itself has been home to several incidents of civil disobedience as Beijing imposed a violent lockdown to prevent the Chinese coronavirus from spreading, welding people shut in their homes and leading to suicides and needless deaths of people unaffected by the virus. Among those protests was a particularly embarrassing incident for the regime in which Wuhan residents drowned a visiting vice-premier in a host of boos from their windows, banned from going outside.
According to the Post, the Yingcheng protest occurred last Thursday, highlighting the difficulty with getting information out of locked out communities. As residents have not been allowed to leave their homes, the Communist Party has been distributing food door to door. Residents complained of reportedly old, insufficient, and extremely expensive food.
A local resident the Post referred to as “Cheng,” using his connections with supermarket owners, was arrested last week for offering the invaluable service of selling fresh foods at a lower price than the government’s.
“According to a post on social media by the city government’s Covid-19 [Chinese coronavirus] emergency command centre, the protest began at about 7.30pm at the Sea Mountain residential complex, which is home to about 8,000 people,” the Post noted. “Defying the terms of the lockdown, hundreds of residents gathered on a basketball court within the compound to vent their anger. They dispersed only after local government officials and police arrived at the scene.”
Cheng reportedly lived at the complex and helped his neighbors.
“We were so angry that we’d been deprived of choice, of access to cheaper and better products,” one participant reportedly told the Beijing News.
Local officials, who Beijing has amply proven throughout the coronavirus crisis it is willing to dispose of to protect the Communist Party’s image, responded to the protest by vowing to lower prices. Cheng was detained only temporarily.
Yingcheng officials are not alone in facing growing discontent among the traumatized residents of Hubei. Last week, in Wuhan itself, locals protested against government officials using garbage trucks to distribute raw pork meat to quarantined residents. The truck did not appear to be in any way sanitized for the job and unnamed officials revealed to state media that the Communist Party purged those responsible for assigning the garbage truck to the job.
The week before the garbage truck incident, Wuhan residents welcomed Vice-President Sun Chunlan with boos and chants of “fake, fake, everything is fake” – an attempt to prevent Chinese state media from showing Sun’s visit welcomed favorably. As the locals were bolted shut in their apartments, the sounds of chants and boos came from windows as Sun toured city streets, allegedly “inspecting” the work of local officials on curtailing the spread of the virus. Sun was particularly inspecting the distribution of necessary food and other goods.
In a rare move, Chinese state media did not censor the complaints. Perhaps to get ahead of individuals posting videos of the protests on social media, the Global Times, the premier Chinese state media outlet in English, posted the video but claimed the protests were against “property management” staffers, not against Sun or the government.
"It's fake! It's fake!" shout residents of a community in #COVID19 epicenter Wuhan in a viral video on China’s social media. They have accused property management of cheating them by only appearing to provide promised necessities. Investigation is underway https://t.co/kzq4gbB4RM pic.twitter.com/0ujObfedR8
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) March 6, 2020
Xi faced protests nationwide before the coronavirus outbreak, though Beijing moved to swiftly silence most of them. In Wuhan, residents took the streets by the thousands – the largest protest attracted 10,000 people – last summer to protest the proposed construction of a waste incineration plant. Wuhan is a densely populated city of 11 million people, making an incinerator a significant threat to the health of residents. The proposed plan would have affected a neighborhood of 300,000 people. After days of protests led by local environmentalists, the government ceded and announced it would hold “public consultations” before breaking ground on the project. Reports by local activists suggested that the government had already broken ground on the project as early as January 2019.
One of China’s most prominent environmentalists, Wuhan resident Xu Dapeng, died in mid-January of “pneumonia” along with his wife. Chinese health officials refused to test the couple, or anyone who came in contact with them, for the Chinese coronavirus.
As of Monday morning, Chinese government officials claim that over 80,000 people nationwide, most in Hubei, have been diagnosed with Chinese coronavirus. Reports citing hospital officials and workers at Wuhan’s funeral homes and crematoria suggest that China actively suppressed the number of real cases. Funeral home owners told the Epoch Times in February that they were burning hundreds of bodies a day, an unsustainable rate using official Beijing statistics. Wuhan locals and hospital officials confirmed that many people exhibiting symptoms compatible with coronavirus infection – dry cough, fever, difficulty breathing – could not access testing kits without official permission from the government-run hospitals.
A recent study found that the first case of Chinese coronavirus identified occurred in mid-November 2019. The Chinese government made a public announcement of the discovery of a new form of coronavirus on January 20. A week before that announcement, the Chinese government held a banquet for 130,000 people.