The dystopian lockdown in Shanghai worries China and the world

The dystopian lockdown in Shanghai worries China and the world

"Please abide by Covid restrictions." "Control your soul's desire for freedom." "Residents of Jiuting. Don't open the windows and don't sing. This increases the chances of contagion." These are some of the indications provided by one of the many drones that have populated the Shanghai sky in recent weeks. Below them, the streets are almost deserted due to a lockdown due to the Covid-19 emergency which is causing considerable problems for the approximately 26 million inhabitants of the Chinese megalopolis.

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For about two years, following initial hesitations, Beijing has managed to effectively contain the spread of infections through a harsh approach but presented as necessary and a sign of the presumed superiority over the softness of the West. However, Shanghai now risks becoming the negative example of the Chinese government's zero Covid strategy. A much more globally interconnected city than Wuhan, also due to the very high number of its foreign and Western citizens, the scarcity of supplies and the inhumanity demonstrated on several occasions by local authorities are showing the dark face of a model that many had suffered. a fascination.

From drones to centralized isolation fields Impossible to leave the house, for any reason. The positives, including the asymptomatic ones, are transferred to centralized isolation camps in which the hygienic and sanitary conditions are often complicated to say the least, as witnessed for example by the Paduan Alessandro Pavanello, who is documenting his stay in one of these centers on Instagram. , separated from his Ukrainian girlfriend who is instead in another place. "Where she is it is worse, because they keep all the lights on all the time. Here at least they turn off some to sleep, even if not all of them", he said in recent days, when he stated that his perception of China with this experience "has changed totally ", so much so that when he has the two negative swabs he will ask" immediately for the help of the Italian consulate to get out as soon as possible ".

There are several cases of minors separated from their parents or of animals from families with positives suppressed. And the supply of food and other basic necessities is a serious problem even for those who remain armored inside their apartment. Videos are wasted on social media, including Chinese ones such as Weibo, in which drones can be observed issuing the guidelines of the lockdown to citizens in quarantine in the various districts of Shanghai. "Disinfect all surfaces regularly, ventilate your homes. Prevent contagion in a scientific way ", among the messages transmitted through small flying vehicles. In some cases, high-volume warnings are issued to citizens present in the streets or to students of the city's universities, warned to stay in the confines of the dormitories of the colleges of wear masks at any time. Scenes that have stimulated dystopian comparisons such as the one with Cyberpunk 2077, a post-pandemic dystopian video game.

The use of technology in the Shanghai lockdown Technology is not applied only with drones to keep compliance with the restrictions by the inhabitants under control. On the streets of Shanghai several robot dogs have been spotted performing the same functions as drones (warning and control) but directly on the streets. In any case, the functions of technology at the time of the pandemic are not only Orwellian: the large digital platforms, for example, have been activated for fo to provide assistance to citizens. In particular, e-commerce giants such as Alibaba and, but also other smaller companies such as Yto Express, which are all making automated smart deliveries through robots and automatic vehicles in armored residential areas.

One way to remedy, at least partially, the serious shortages of food, medicines and other basic necessities that have been denounced for some time now by several citizens of Shanghai. But it is still not enough, also because the activities of the logistics companies are themselves contaminated by the infections. Over 90% of the trucks are out of order and trucks are forbidden to enter and leave the city without a special permit. Situation that is also having an impact at an international level in the slowdown in shipments of goods both by sea and by air.

Social and political consequences All this despite being Omicron, it is mainly asymptomatic infections or with symptoms mild. So much so that there have been several protests from those who see more political than health reasons in the harshness of the authorities' approach. The theme of food shortages evokes tremendous memories for the Chinese, especially for the generations that have experienced the "great leap forward".

For this reason, the case of Shanghai risks creating some unrest not only at the popular level but also at the political level, a few months after the XX Congress of the Communist Party called to confirm Xi Jinping for a third historic term . Compared to past outbreaks, it is more complicated to identify local officials as solely responsible. The government is waiting for the moment in which the contagion curve will drop drastically (the trend is already decreasing) to declare a new "victory" against Omicron, to be presented as further proof of the efficiency of a strategy that is however further disconnecting the China from what's out there.

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