The “zero-COVID” policy of the Chinese Communist Party, promoted by Xi Jinping as a political and health victory, has wreaked havoc in several regions of the country. Tragedies continue, from Tibetans asking for help through social networks to get out of quarantine, to the elderly who died of starvation locked in their homes.
Many of these tragedies remain in the shadows under the confines of Chinese censorship and the great internet firewall. Yet some come to light for the whole world to witness the cruelty of the CCP’s policies since the beginning of the pandemic.
In the Xinjiang region, local authorities imposed the most severe restrictions and have imposed a strict lockdown since August. The capital, Urumqi, has been under restrictions since August 10, with activities and public transportation suspended. Residents have spent the entire autumn and winter locked in their homes, only able to go out for testing. Many cannot earn a living if they are not allowed to go out, so numerous families depend on the retirement of the elderly for survival.
A few days ago, rumors of more mass lockdowns further impacted residents, and local authorities had to come out to clarify that the outbreak is not yet under control, so the measures may continue indefinitely.
The announcement by Xinjiang authorities stated that the current outbreak is a “major public health emergency with the fastest spread, the widest coverage, the largest number of infected people, and the most difficult prevention and control.”
Following the official announcement, heavy snow fell on the city. One netizen posted a photo showing the four different seasons from the window of his home.
According to South China Morning Post information, authorities implemented lockdowns in the city, canceled rail services in the region, along with several rounds of quarantines since 2020. However, this has failed to stop the number of positive cases.
Xinjiang is a region with more than 25 million people, and COVID cases represent a very small portion of the population, with the latest figures published by Chinese media abroad reporting nearly 500 cases since the start of the outbreak in August.
According to Ni Mingjian, chief expert at the Xinjiang Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in early October more COVID-19 cases will continue to emerge in Xinjiang as the region faces great “uncertainty.” He said, “Hidden sources of infection in local communities have not been completely eliminated, and asymptomatic infections continue to spread in the community before they are detected.”
Liu Sushe, vice chairman of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, admitted that the regime failed to contain the outbreak that began in August.
More than a month has passed, and the region remains under restrictions. It has been recognized worldwide that omicron has a higher infection rate but symptoms are not as severe as with previous strains of COVID-19. Therefore, the Chinese Communist Party’s measures in Xinjiang are too strict compared to other countries, which have completely eliminated pandemic lockdowns and quarantines.
In Tibet, the strict measures were even tightened with the emergence of new outbreaks of omicron.
Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that the Chinese Communist regime continues to expand quarantine centers in Xinjiang. Satellite images provided by RFA Uyghur Service showed a new prefabricated quarantine facility. Official figures released by the regime indicate only a couple of dozen new and symptomatic cases each day in the region.
A video obtained from the internet revealed that Ma Zhijun, the Chinese Communist Party secretary in Urumqi, has been ordering officials to send people who test positive for the virus and their close contacts to quarantine centers. The video went viral after the 20th CCP Congress.
Recently, the CCP secretary of Xinjiang visited Urumqi and had to deal with Uyghur protests against restrictions in several districts. According to RFA reports, police authorities confirmed the protests, however, they did not give further details because they constitute “state secrets.” A police chief noted that anyone who is against the quarantine measures is doing an “illegal act” and will be arrested.
On social networks, such as Twitter, posts from overseas Uyghurs surfaced asking for help for their relatives under Chinese Communist Party lockdown.
A Twitter user, @AdaletS2, a Uyghur living in the United States, is asking for help for her parents who are penniless, without food, and in need of medication. Her parents are quarantined under the “zero-COVID” policy in Urumqi.
According to a recent U.N. report, in Xinjiang, the Chinese Communist Party is committing crimes against the human rights of the Uyghurs. Re-education centers for labor are a front for concentration camps where Uyghurs are tortured and Uyghur women are subjected to all kinds of humiliation. An estimated 1 to 2 million Uighurs continue to be deprived of their freedom under the CCP’s “re-education” plan.
The communist regime has denied the U.N. report as well as other reports by human rights NGOs.