Many of the people around me have tested positive for omicron. In Chinese, the word for positive is 阳性 (yáng xìng), and the pun is with 羊 (yáng) or “lamb.” In keeping with the animated pandemic, this means that most memes involve 🐑 puns. During the lockdowns, one of the most popular phone games was 羊了个羊, a game that can be played on WeChat. The game is similar to a 3-tile puzzle and indeed, some say its a rip off of the original Three Tiles. At any rate, tens of millions have played, posted about playing, and analyzed the play while locked down. Now, that people actually have joined the omicron herd, there is more talk about how to convalesce and take care of oneself. And there’s the rub: party members are being asked to put their bodies on the line. Below, I’ve translated a recent article from the headline news app (今日头条). The gist: a true Party member puts their body on the line for the good of the masses:Continue reading
Tag Archives: covid-19
quarantining at the vienna
So, I went back to the states and have just returned to Shenzhen. I did one covid test in Seattle and then flew to Shanghai, where I quarantined at a Vienna Hotel (维也纳酒店), where my quarantine was physically comfortable, if somewhat surreal because while I was in isolation, zero-Covid infrastructure was being dismantled. I had a window, a clean comfy bed and lots of hot water. The food was cafeteria-standard: never tasty, but never so bad it couldn’t be eaten. And here’s the rub: when I was sent out of the hotel to find a taxi, I was within a twenty minute drive to the airport and the hi-speed railway, all for roughly 400 yuan a night, including food and Covid tests. So, I got my money’s worth?
Here’s the rub: Vienna has been my favorite Chinese hotel chain for at least two decades. When given a choice (or when I have to pay), I stay at a Vienna Hotel. In fact, I’m such a fan of the chain, my cellphone wallpaper is me mirroring a Dafen painting in the hallway of the Vienna Hotel near Zhongshan U (Sun Yay-sen University) and has been my wallpaper for five or six years… possibly more? Sometimes I loose track of the timeline of my life…Continue reading
did a campaign start when we were online for our daily corona test?
Throughout 2022, as corona testing has become normalized (常态), testing status and QR codes have increasingly been used to prevent possible political “outbreaks.” The most recent case involved depositors who were unable to withdraw money from their banks in rural Henan. This case broke over a month ago. It concluded several weeks later, when depositors went to provincial capital, Zhengzhou in order to make official complaints. As the depositors converged on Zhengzhou, their health codes turned red, which prevented them from using public transportation, getting rooms in hotels, or entering buildings with strict compliance.Continue reading
rhythms of the bug
Yesterday morning between midnight and noon, 4 positives were reported in Shenzhen. One each in Pingshan, Xiangmihu, Nanhu and Dongmen Street Offices. So basically in the east, but citywide rapid response: neighborhoods went into lockdown, emergency corona testing was mandatory in those those street offices, and everyone in the city was notified that all day Sunday, June 19 access to public transport and spaces would require a 24-hour QR code, or green horse. Government sponsored events, including a planned Handshake guided tour of Shatoujiao were cancelled. Blink. The information was delivered to our phones.
I took the above photo while waiting online to get tested. For the first time in several months, we waited over half an hour. Fortunately, it wasn’t raining. Sigh.
going through the motions…unless it’s something else?
Once-every-three-days Covid testing continues in Shenzhen, but we seem to be going through the motions. We are now up to twenty cotton swabs per test and many have noticed that the swabbing isn’t as “sincere 认真” as it used to be. Moreover, although it is possible to go an extra day or two without testing, however, after the fifth day, you have to go to a designated test station. There are, of course, differences between stations depending on location. Some health workers still jab, while others seem more careful. But. Regardless if the hand that pokes the throat is strong or gentle, testing at all the stations that I’ve used seems so cursory. Even when boarding the metro (the buses never checked covid passports), the security guards look at the QR code and just wave a thermometer in one’s general direction, begging the question: what purpose are these tests serving? (Other than the ongoing transfer of wealth to biotech enterprises.)
Dark sci-fi paranoia du jour: All this bio-monitoring has me wondering about the kinds of data that are being collected, how it is being stored, and the reliance on cellphones for this system to work. Indeed, the entire system hinges on the belief of direct link between an individual and a particular phone, which is true in my case. But. Easily hacked, I would think. If that was your goal and/or skillset. It seems to me that if the goal is bio-surveillance, then the logical step would be to chip us all, guaranteeing that the data you’re seeing is linked to a specific body. Although, there are no doubt technologies at play I don’t know about. Kind of like gene-editing cockroaches, we could be gene-edited to transmit selected information. And on dark and rainy nights, these ideas don’t even feel fanciful, but rather inevitable. Sigh.
of guessing games and scapegoats
So what’s happening at the top? Inquiring minds want to know.
First, I come across this image of the Hunan Health Commission Vice Director Huang Huiyong being convicted of accepting 24.87 million yuan in bribes and kickbacks in corona testing. And yes, I too am wondering about the optics of wearing a Big White suit to the sentencing when no one else is dressed up to conduct a building sweep or poke throats. The image implies that the Big Whites, their ops and their actions are under the supervision of the CCP. Those pesky and anonymous Big Whites are responsible for the crazy and THEY will be held accountable for social disruption. Because they independently enforced extreme testing? Kind of like Shanghai wasn’t officially re-opened…hmmmmm.
the gaokao cometh
June 7-9, 51,200 senior three students are scheduled to sit the gaokao in 49 ordinary and 31 special test centers throughout Shenzhen. Years past, organizing the gaokao would have been given many more pixels on social media, but Covid. In fact, Gaokao cheating stories have long been some of my favorite urban myths. But this year. Covid. And ongoing prevention. (Although I heard a rumor that as of July medical insurance funds can no longer be tapped for mass testing, so it may end in July? Fingers crossed.) Thus, this year all the gaokao
trauma drama I have to report is that we have been notified that phone signals will be blocked near testing stations to prevent cheating. Residents who have to report emergencies have been instructed to use landline phones or move out of range. There was also the odd article about how cheating on the gaokao is a criminal offense that carries severe (not quite explicit) penalties. But these scare tactics are just part and parcel of moral standards that hold teenagers accountable for minor mistakes, but allows powerful adults to make fortunes from unsavory business practices, such as a fraudulent Covid testing. Sigh.
从天命观看疫情：is talking about the mandate of heaven superstitious?
A speculative what if: what if the Covid had happened during the late Qing? Would there have been discussions about loosing the will of heaven? Would we be having more serious conversations about ecological responsibility? And would we maybe understand all this Covid testing and infrastructure as some kind of attempt to suppress the expression of heaven’s mandate?
I know, kind of conspiracy theory-esque. But. Also, kind of sci-fi in the speculative way of questions such as: “how does science and technology reshape political ecologies within and against historical cultures?” Indeed, the ongoing management of the pandemic after pandemic’s end has my mind following Sun Wukong into imaginative black holes that aren’t explicitly Euro-North American, but rather all about the mandate of heaven 天命.Continue reading
gaslighting 101: shanghai hasn’t reopened because it was never locked down…
That’s what they’re going with? This is a popular gloss on the press conference that didn’t announce that the city had reopened. Instead, government spokespeople performed a master class in gas lighting.
The past two months are being presented as if neighborhood offices acted independently of the municipal government and Sun Chunlan 孙春兰 never came to take charge of the pandemic; and indeed, unlike in Wuhan and Hong Kong, Sun’s tenure in Shanghai was brief and remarkably not lauded. There is no official position on the not-lockdown, which reads like blaming the victim with Chinese characteristics. So to speak.
In response to the blatant buck-passing, testimonial videos about what happened during the lockdown have been posted. In addition, stories about how the Shanghai government has not taken responsibility for the recent lockdown are also circulating. The pleasure of these second category of stories is that they show an actual representative of the Party and government telling the truth. Below I’ve translated one of those stories that I’m calling, “Speechless 无语 in Shanghai.”Continue reading