Beijing begins to lock down schools, businesses and residential areas

The shadow of a Shanghai-style coronavirus lockdown loomed even deeper over the Chinese capital, Beijing, on Friday as health officials began shutting down businesses, quarantining residential compounds and closing schools. indefinitely.

The third round of mass coronavirus testing in Beijing is scheduled for Friday, but city officials did not wait for the results before ordered all schools closed indefinitely.

The announcement did not include any provision for distance learning, or how students might be able to take vital upcoming exams, suggesting the decision was made in a panic or kept quiet for as long as possible. to avoid triggering a mass exodus from Beijing.

Chinese coronavirus data should always be viewed with deep skepticism, but Beijing currently claims a total of 150 infections in the current wave of omicron, of which around a third are attributable to clusters of outbreaks in schools in the district of Chaoyang.

Two housing complexes in Chaoyang were effectively closed on Tuesday as residents were ordered to stay at home. Panels applicationandred outside the speakers saying “Input only, no output”.

Beijing suspended weddings and funerals on Thursday, the UK Guardian reported.

People wearing face masks line up for coronavirus tests in a neighborhood in Beijing’s Dongcheng District, Tuesday, April 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Foreign visitors to Beijing have reported being herded into “quarantine hotels” or locked in their own residences with electronic alarms. Businesses and public accommodations, from gymnasiums to cinemas and malls, were closed on Friday. People who have recently spent time in such companies have started receiving creepy text messages, like this example cited by Reuters Friday:

Hello citizens! You recently visited the Beef Noodle and Braised Chicken Shop in Guanghui Li Community. Please report to your resort or hotel immediately, stay put, and wait for notification of nucleic acid testing. If you violate the above requirements and cause the epidemic to spread, you will bear the legal responsibility.

Beijing officials are keeping the results of mass coronavirus tests secret for as long as possible while reassuring the public that a harsh Shanghai-style lockdown will not be imposed on the capital, France24 noted on Thursday. Some of that assurance is conveyed through loudspeakers in grocery stores that literally tell shoppers they have no reason to fear food shortages like Shanghai’s.

Beijing begins to lock down schools, businesses and residential areas

A woman stands between almost empty displays of eggs after buying them at a supermarket in Chaoyang district on April 25, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

“The country’s government also does not want to hear about a possible total lockdown of the capital. It is not clear that the country – or even the world – can afford it after more than two years of restrictions,” wrote France24, while stressing that the restrictions and closures announced Thursday and Friday could be considered a slow city lockdown. avoid public fear and outrage.


Fears of a Covid lockdown sparked panic buying and long queues for mass testing in Beijing on April 25. (AFP)

Locking down Beijing like Shanghai could unleash absolute terror on other Chinese cities, drive out foreign investors and ruin China’s hopes of meeting its 2022 growth targets. It would be a huge embarrassment for the Chinese Communist Party before its next 20th Congress, especially since the inhabitants of the imperial capital have learned to look down on Shanghai, an attitude explained by the Diplomat Wednesday:

Many Beijingers have a certain disdain for Shanghai, the country’s westernmost commercial center. Shanghainese are “unreasonable troublemakers”; their officials deserve blame for not locking down fast enough, says a typical resident of the capital. Censorship and propaganda helped shape these sentiments. Shanghai’s suffering is glossed over in the news. The townspeople’s outbursts of anger on social media are quickly suppressed by state censors.

Beijing officials appear to view Shanghai as a rare exception to their zero-covid achievement — China has had a lower death rate from the virus than any major country and stronger economic growth. This is certainly not a lesson that politics should change. On the contrary, Shanghai officials are being chastised for being too cowardly and moving too slowly. The central government has pushed for more testing and stricter lockdowns. Many residents have recently found green fences outside their compounds, to seal them off.

This political illusion would become difficult to maintain if Beijing ended up in the same confinement hell as Shanghai, and it would be even more embarrassing for the Communist Party if the imprisoned people of Beijing grew like restless and resentful as Shanghai has become.

The Shanghai captives got into the habit of leaning out of their windows and banging pots and pans to signal their dissatisfaction with the “dynamic zero-Covid” containment policy. It would make quite a scene in Beijing.


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