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China and Covid19

Weibo Reactions to Beijing Announcing Vaccine Mandate

It is the first time for Beijing to make vaccines mandatory, and not everyone is happy about it.

Manya Koetse

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For the first time since the beginning of the Covid epidemic in China, Beijing has announced that starting from July 11, people entering crowded venues such as libraries, museums, cinemas, theatres, stadiums, Internet cafes and other similar places must be vaccinated.

Senior citizens visiting activity sites for the elderly, including recreational and fitness centers, also should be vaccinated as soon as possible, along with seniors who are staying at nursing homes or rest homes.

The vaccine mandate was announced on Wednesday by Li Ang (李昂), deputy director at the Beijing Municipal Health Commission, during a regular press conference regarding the city’s Covid situation and ongoing anti-epidemic work.

During the press conference, Li also reiterated that those working in healthcare, epidemic prevention and control, community or volunteer work and other public services should complete full vaccination. People who are “not suitable” for vaccination will be exempted.

It is the first time for Beijing to make vaccines mandatory for those visiting public places.

“Why did you talk bullsh*t about not enforcing vaccines previously?!” some commenters wrote on social media in response to the news, with others wondering if this meant the mandatory mass testing would no longer be necessary.

Another popular Weibo comment said: “If we get vaccinated, can we no longer be infected? If we get vaccinated, do we no longer need testing? If we get vaccinated, are we we no longer required to quarantine? Will you admit to the side effects of vaccination?”

Although Chinese state media already claimed that Chinese Covid-19 vaccines were proven effective as early as September 2020, they were not officially mandatory before.

The CanSino vaccine was approved to be given to members of the military by late June of 2020, after which it was also administered to those facing high infection risks, such as medical industry workers and border inspectors. Two other vaccines by Sinovac and Sinopharm were also given to thousands of people, including the employees of Sinovac and their families, after being authorized for ’emergency use’ in summer of 2020.

There was some contradiction in how domestic news outlets previously reported about made-in-China vaccines. On one hand, it was emphasized that Chinese vaccines were ‘succesful’ and would be launched soon. On the other hand, leading experts such as Zhong Nanshan (钟南山) seemed apprehensive and were quoted as saying that it would take up to two years to roll out a large-scale vaccine program in China – which would be around now.

By spring of 2021, vaccines were readily available in China and although people initially were encouraged to get vaccinated with local authorities giving away freebies for those getting their shot, people soon rushed to get vaccinated once there were new local outbreaks in, among others, Anhui and Liaoning.

Crazy lines for vaccination in May of 2021.

By mid September of 2021, China had reportedly fully inoculated 1 billion people. But with approximately 48 million people over 60 years old remaining unvaccinated as of May of this year, including nearly half of the people over 80, there has been more urgent advise from experts to boost vaccination rates in order to lower the death rate of Covid-19 outbreaks.

While some areas in China were making vaccines mandatory earlier in 2021, central health authorities put a stop to compulsory vaccines on April 11th of last year (“不得强制要求全员接种新冠疫苗”).

Online poster by People’s Daily says not to force people to take the Covid vaccine.

On social media, many commenters feel that Beijing’s latest announcement is still forcing people to get vaccinated despite earlier official statements saying that people should not be forced to to get the shot.

Some people talk about Beijing ‘playing games’ with Covid guidelines and the language that comes with it. “It’s like Shanghai saying they weren’t actually in lockdown,” one commenter wrote: “Not sure why I stayed at home all that time then.”

At the same time, there are also netizens expressing full support for the latest measures:

First, Beijing isn’t really the first to implement this policy, many countries around the world have had similar policies before, and there are precedents in common law and mainland law, so there’s no controversy when it comes to legality. Second, it really isn’t forced on you. For those who do not [wish] to receive the vaccine for no particular reason, you could choose not to go to crowded public places, and you might as well not get the vaccine.

This blogger goes on to list more reasons why they support Beijing’s vaccine mandate, including the proven efficiency and safety of the vaccine, and the choice to get a vaccine in order to get more freedom.

Still, many remain skeptical and might just wait out on getting the shot if they haven’t gotten it already.

“As long as I can still do my groceries, it’s fine by me,” some people commented.

Some people are also worried about the technical side of the vaccine mandate: “If I receive my vaccine outside of Beijing, will it still show up in the Beijing Health app?” one person wondered.

And many typical comments show that there is simply not enough awareness on the pro’s and cons of getting a Covid vaccine: “Can the vaccine prevent the spread of the virus? What are the side effects?”

Many people also see Beijing’s announcement as a sign of what is to come: “The next step is the entire country.”

To read more about Covid-19 in China, check our articles here.

By Manya Koetse

 

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China and Covid19

Anger over Guangzhou Anti-Epidemic Staff Picking Locks, Entering Homes

While these Guangzhou homeowners were quarantined at a hotel, anti-epidemic staff broke their door locks and entered their homes.

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WEIBO SHORT | Weibo Shorts are concise articles on topics that are trending. This article was first published

Dozens of homeowners in Guangzhou, Guangdong, were angered to find out the locks of their apartment doors were broken during their mandatory hotel quarantine.

The residents had gone to a quarantine location after a positive Covid case in their building. Afterward, anti-epidemic staff had entered their homes for disinfection and to check if any residents were still inside.

The incident happened earlier this month in an apartment complex in the Liwan district of the city.

The incident first gained attention on July 10 when various videos showing the broken door locks were posted online. During the morning, the property management had conducted an ’emergency inspection’ of 84 households. The doors were later sealed.

The case went trending again on July 18 when the residential district apologized to all homeowners for the break-ins and promised to compensate them.

“What’s the use of apologizing?” some Weibo commenters wondered. “Where is the law? If this even happens in Guangzhou now and people in Guangdong put up with this, what else will they dare to do in the future?”

On Chinese social media, most comments on the Guangzhou incident were about the break-ins allegedly being unlawful.

Media reporter and Toutiao author Kai Lei (@凯雷), who has over two million followers on Weibo, said the incident showed that those breaking in “had no regard for the law.”

To read more about Covid-19 in China, check our articles here.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China and Covid19

Beijing Communities Asking People to Wear Electronic Monitoring Wristband during Home Quarantine

“It’s almost like wearing electronic handcuffs. I don’t want to wear this,” one tech blogger wrote after being asked to wear a monitoring wristband during home quarantine.

Manya Koetse

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Social media posts from Beijing residents claiming that they were asked to wear electronic monitoring wristbands during home quarantine have prompted angry reactions on Weibo.

“Last week, I went on a work trip to Guangzhou and before I returned to Beijing I did the nucleic acid tests in time. I also reported my home isolation to authorities and received the antigen tests. In the middle of the night, I then received a notification from my community that they are giving me an electric bracelet to wear,” one Beijing resident writes on Weibo on July 14: “If they need to monitor my health, I’ll cooperate with temperature checks and nucleic acid tests at the door, but I cannot accept this so-called 24-hour electronic monitoring.”

Similar stories by Beijing residents returning back to the city after traveling have popped up on Chinese social media over the past few days. Tech blogger Dahongmao (@大红矛) – who has over 170,000 followers on Weibo – also shared their wristband experience, writing:

After returning to Beijing from a business trip, I reported to the community on my own initiative, and also volunteered to take the tests and stay in home isolation. Seeing that I could go out, a lady from the community called me and said that there was a new policy again and that all people in home quarantine must wear an electronic bracelet, and that it would be delivered to me that night. She explained that it is used to check the body temperature and that they could conveniently monitor body temperature data on the phone. I said that I had already strictly followed Beijing’s requirements in accordance with the anti-epidemic work. If this bracelet can connect to the internet, it definitely is also able to record my movements and it’s almost like wearing electronic handcuffs. I don’t want to wear this. If you want to know my temperature, just come to the door and check me, that’s fine, I’m also still clocking in to do antigen testing everyday. She said it’s a requirement from higher-up and that I shouldn’t make it difficult for her, I said I would not want to make it difficult for her but that she could tell those above her that I won’t wear it. If you insist that I wear it, you’ll have to come up with the documents that prove that it’s a Beijing government requirement and that this is not some unlicensed company trying to make a profit.

As more stories started surfacing about Beijing compounds asking residents to wear electronic bracelets during their home isolation, various hashtags related to the issue made their rounds on Chinese social media and photos taken by people wearing the bracelets also were posted online.

Photos of the wristband’s packaging show the electronic wristband is manufactured by Beijing Microsense Technology (北京微芯感知科技有限公司), a local Beijing company established in April of 2020 that is located in the city’s Haidian District.

These stories raised concerns online, especially because the wristband had not been announced as a policy by the city’s official health authorities.

“Resist the craziness,” one Weibo user wrote: “Our personal freedom is covertly being limited, and there’s people making a profit behind it.” “This is becoming more and more like one big prison,” one Zhejiang-based blogger wrote.

Tech blogger Dahongmao later updated their Weibo story about the bracelets, saying the community staff had come back to retrieve the electronic bracelets on Thursday afternoon because they had received “too many complaints.” News of the wristbands being recalled after too many complaints also became a hashtag on Weibo (#大量投诉质疑后社区回收电子手环#).

Chinese state media commentator Hu Xijin (@胡锡进), who is Beijing-based, also responded to the controversy, emphasizing that the bracelets had already been retrieved by community workers and that Beijing city would not force people to wear electronic wristbands during home quarantine. “I wonder if this adjustment was made due to the pressure of public opinion,” Hu wrote: “But even if it was, let us encourage this kind of respect shown in the face of public discontent and opposition.” He also made a video about the incident for his Hu Says series.

Earlier on Thursday, Hu had called some of the posts about the electronic wristbands “unfounded rumors” because people returning to Beijing from low-risk regions inside of China do not even need to isolate at home at all.

According to the official guidelines, individuals arriving (back) in Beijing must have a green health code and a negative nucleic acid test obtained within 48 hours. Only those individuals coming in from overseas must complete a 7-day centralized quarantine plus 3-day home isolation. Secondary contacts of confirmed cases will also be asked to do 7 days of home quarantine.

“Don’t say it’s just rumors,” one Weibo user wrote: “I’m wearing one [a wristband] right now. I had to, because my roommate returned from a trip.”

Blogger Dahongmao responded to Hu’s post about the wristband, saying: “Hu, if you are really concerned about this, then help to ask the relevant departments about these three questions. 1) Why doesn’t this consumer electronic product have the nationally required 3C certificate? 2) How come this anti-epidemic product doesn’t have medical device certification? 3) Without these two certificates, how did this [company] enter the purchasing list of the government for the Winter Olympics?”

As reported by Jiemian News, the same company that allegedly produced these wristbands also manufactured a smart wearable temperature measurement device called a “temperature band-aid,” which was used in the Olympic Village during the Beijing Winter Olympics.

On the late afternoon of July 14, the Beijing Municipal Health Commission responded to the online concerns about the electronic wristband, reportedly saying that home isolation is only necessary for people returning to Beijing from inside of China if they are coming from high-risk areas, and that there is no official policy in place regarding the need to wear electronic bracelets.

To read more about Covid-19 in China, check our articles here.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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