shenzhen covid update for inquiring minds

“What’s up in Shenzhen?” You and other inquiring minds want to know.

Well, for starters, we have a new conspiracy theory about how Shenzhen’s successfully prevented a massive omicron outbreak on the scale of Hong Kong and/or Shanghai.

Your curiosity gets the best of you and you impishly ask, “What’s the tea?”

I lean forward and whisper, “Apparently, the city’s zero-Covid strategy has served to cover-up the fact that Shenzhen was caught unprepared, just like Hong Kong and Shanghai. At the beginning of the outbreak, the city didn’t have enough quarantine centers to house all the positives, symptomatic and not. So instead of treating patients, they sent everyone home to wait it out, without ever releasing true statistics. The basis of this conjecture is the unstated question: how could Hong Kong and Shanghai have so many positives and Shenzhen not?”

And my voice is rising along with my excitement, “I mean, you can hear the rhetorical force of the conspiracy theory, which pivots on what the numbers mean. And let’s be real. Statistical abnormalities should be ringing our bells because so much of who we think we are is tied up in hypotheses about populations, which are in fact statistically imagined entities. So, to my mind, which is a curious mind, the reasoning behind this theory of what is actually happening is mischievous satirical impeccable. Especially, if your point of epistemological departure is that omicron spreads+government can’t be trusted. Which, who doesn’t believe?

Anyway, the post (which counts as rumor mongering within official social media, but that’s another story for another day) reads:

I finally understand, and here’s the story:
  1. When the entire city conducted mass testing, they had already discovered tens of thousands, or even 100,000+ positives;
  2. There was no place for these people to go because there weren’t enough shelters [the word for these temporary quarantine centers is 方舱 ], so everyone had to wait at home;
  3. The positives couldn’t be taken away, so we couldn’t open the city;
  4. There weren’t records of these positives in the health cloud because if they let you know that you were positive, but had no place to go, this would lead to panic;
  5. To maintain stability, this situation couldn’t be made known. All that could be done was squeezing the tube of toothpaste, everyday a little more;
  6. In order for there to be toothpaste everyday, everyday we had to go through the motions of being tested, because if there wasn’t testing, where would the positives come from? [No testing] would reveal the game. So what we’ve been doing is coordinating with their lies [配合 is one of the most lauded values in Shenzhen’s bureaucratic culture. Indeed, most meetings end with the injunction to coordinate 配合 with whatever directives have come down];
  7. There’s a loophole in all this. If the whole city has been staying at home, why are there still so many positives? They are no longer able to manage the original lie. From another angle, this demonstrates that the statistics which were released everyday, weren’t the daily statistics. But rather, they were already digested statistics from the overall testing;
  8. The final conclusion is that we have to wait for the construction of shelters which can house 100,000 people. The positives can be detained, and then three to five days later, the city can be re-opened.

Comment: What genius came up with this? It’s really logical…

Comment: This is the Di Renjie of the ordinary people [Di Renjie was a high-ranking detective during the Tang dynasty].

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