covid-19 schadenfreude

The images circulating on Shenzhen-based WeChat groups are uncannily familiar: people being stopped by guards as the try to sneak across the Shenzhen-Hong Kong border. Only this time, the flight is from Hong Kong to Shenzhen (and/or Hong Kong to Zhuhai). A certain schadenfreude infuses these posts, as if Hong Kong’s current problems demonstrate not only the superiority of the Mainland, but also “just desserts” for implied past actions. There are also reports that the governments of coastal cities are offering rewards to anyone who reports illegal immigrants, and claims that these illegal returnees have “evil intentions 恶意” because as Chinese citizens, they can legally enter the Mainland at designated checkpoints.

Border guards apprehend a young man, who swam from Yuen Long to Shenzhen Bay Park, carrying a suitcase with him. He was admitted to a local hospital.

These past few days, Hong Kong has been overwhelmed by its fifth wave of infections. Hospitals are filled to capacity, while images of patients in temporary “wings” that have been set up outdoors have intensified both outrage and concern over how the Hong Kong government has handled the situation. Published statistics said that as of February 16, over 12,000 people in Hong Kong were waiting to be admitted to hospital or a quarantine space. As the situation has worsened, thousands of Chinese residents have fled from the SAR to the Mainland, but especially to Shenzhen in order to avoid the most recent Covid-19 outbreak. Images on BiliBili show hundreds waiting to cross from Hong Kong into Shenzhen, despite having to complete a 21-day quarantine.

Patients lie on hospital beds as they wait at a temporary holding area outside Caritas Medical Centre in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022 (AP Photo Vincent Yu).

UPDATE: As of midnight, Monday, February 21, 2022, Shenzhen’s ports will also be closed. When the fishing boats return they will be quarantined for 14 days. I’m also attaching two local government announcements offering rewards for turning in people illegally in the city. Of note? These two Bao’an subdistricts seem to acting independently of the district as they are offering different rewards for information leading to the capture of boats, snake heads, and illegal immigrants.

Xixiang is offering 100,000 yuan for a boat, 30,000 yuan for a snake head (“coyote” in the language of the US-Mexican border), and 10,000 yuan for an illegal immigrant.
Fuyong is offering 200,000 yuan for a boat, 50,000 yuan for a snake head, and 20,000 for an illegal immigrant.

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