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Beijing in the anguish of an upcoming confinement

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“I am terrified of being confined to Beijing”, admits Liao Tobi while several dozen positive cases have been recorded in the Chinese political capital, so far rather spared by the epidemic of Covid and the Omicron variant. Rumors of a worsening health situation keep coming to fruition, and when a public health official, Pang Xinghuo, said over the weekend that “The situation is serious, the whole city must act without delay”, it was the official signal of a catastrophe which was announced. With the prospect of a confinement of which no one yet knows the nature but which could be unprecedented.

“Amazing confinements”

“When I observe the chaos in Shanghai (87 dead and 200,000 cases since the beginning of March, editor’s note), large city supposedly more modern than anywhere else in China that is failing to manage the epidemicfurther explains Liao Tobi, a 45-year-old electrical engineer, I fear the same scenario for Beijing to the power of ten. » He, like one of his neighbours, went shopping for food during the weekend – oil, vegetables, fruit, rice, water… But, on certain online shopping sites, many basic products were already missing. “As a political capital, Beijing risks becoming a real fortressanalyzes a Western diplomat, because all the top leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) live there and, with the approach of the 20th Congress of the CCP, the regime will not want to take any risks; it will close everything hermetically. »

→ TESTIMONY. Covid-19 in China: the “home prison” told from the inside

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China has been facing an epidemic outbreak since March which affects almost the entire country to varying degrees (nearly 200 million Chinese confined). She tries to overcome it with her zero Covid strategy. This consists in particular of confinements as soon as a few cases appear and of massive tests to quickly identify infected people and isolate them. “Amazing confinements to several in a cramped room where everyone can contaminate themselves”, rebels Connie Cheng in Shanghai. “It is the irrational that has taken precedence over scientific rigor”, adds this biologist who communicates on an encrypted network. Just like in Wuhan, where more than 8,000 people are positive and where all residents have to test themselves every day to take transport, do their shopping or go to work…

“Shanghai plunged into dead silence”

In Beijing on Monday (April 25), long lines, sometimes hundreds of residents, snaked between sidewalks and shopping malls before arriving at makeshift screening tents, where officers in full protective suits conducted PCR tests. These sites are located in the Chaoyang district, in the east of the capital. With a population of around 3.5 million, the population of Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is the most affected by this epidemic wave.

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→ ANALYSIS. Covid-19: Shanghai lockdown weighs on Chinese economy

So far, Beijing had escaped the epidemic but today the control measures will be further intensified. “The tyranny of the QR Code conceals less and less well the political tyranny imposed by the leader Xi Jinping”, judges another European diplomat based in Beijing, who does not hide his exasperation at having to live through a situation which resembles the darkest years of Maoism in the 1950s and 1960s.

In Shanghai, frightening videos are circulating showing the violence of these “men in white jumpsuits” who brutalize the inhabitants who smash the barbed wire barriers installed around their building. And there is no prospect of seeing this confinement lifted soon. Sunday evening, a resident communicated to The cross his sense of desperation on a secure network: “Last night, I couldn’t sleep because I was overwhelmed by violent emotions: hatred, anguish, despair at seeing the largest city in China sink into misfortune, into dead silence. »

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