A viral video which presents the repercussions of the confinement of Shanghai on its inhabitants was deleted from the Chinese Internet by the censors, arousing the incomprehension and even the anger of Internet users on Saturday. China’s economic capital, populated by 25 million people, is facing its worst outbreak of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health announced on Saturday 12 new deaths and more than 23,000 new positive cases in Shanghai. This is a rebound of nearly 6,000 cases from the previous day. Local authorities attribute this new increase in particular to overcrowding in certain old residential buildings, where kitchens and toilets are shared. Almost all Shanghainese have been confined to their homes since early April. Many residents have difficulty getting supplies of fresh produce and seeing a doctor.
The clip shared massively on the WeChat social network
Titled “Siyue zhi sheng” (“Voices of April”), the six-minute video is a long sequence shot of Shanghai filmed from the air. The author has added to these black and white images, in chronological order, a succession of sounds taken from press conferences, videos published on social networks or telephone calls from residents. The video begins with the voices of politicians declaring, at the start of the outbreak in March, that a short preventive lockdown is undesirable, due to its economic repercussions. This initial hesitation led to the explosion in the number of positive cases, which finally triggered the current confinement which is expected to last for many weeks.
The video presents the repercussions with around twenty sound clips: confined residents who are unable to obtain food, medicine or get to the hospital, a man prevented from returning to his confined neighborhood or even a woman describing the chaos in quarantine centers. The clip was massively shared and seen Friday evening on the WeChat social network. But the censors managed to erase all traces of it in a few hours.
Protest videos often censored
“The author just presents raw facts. There is nothing provocative! “, Annoyed Saturday a user of the social network Weibo, where discussions on the subject are almost completely censored. “This video is nothing special. Its contents were already known. But the fact of seeing that even that is censored, it bothers me. That’s why I reposted it on my feed,” wrote another user. As a sign of discontent, many Internet users shared music videos of two songs with protesting lyrics on WeChat: Do You Hear the People Sing? (from the musical Wretched) and Another Brick In The Wall (from the group Pink Floyd). The first is a call to rebellion. The second castigates in particular “thought control”. The video remains visible on YouTube, a site however inaccessible from mainland China without bypass software (VPN).
Many Shanghainese have castigated various logistical hiccups and Kafkaesque situations resulting from the application of health measures on Chinese social networks in recent weeks. While many videos are censored, they often aren’t censored quickly enough to prevent them from going viral. China justifies its anti-Covid strategy by the desire to limit the number of deaths as much as possible. Officially, less than 5,000 deaths have been recorded since the start of the pandemic.
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