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Chinese People Attacked with Milk Powder in Amsterdam

Pictures and a video of Dutch men emptying boxes of milk powder over Chinese tourists in Amsterdam have become trending on Chinese social media networks Weixin and Weibo.

Manya Koetse

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Pictures and a video of Dutch men emptying boxes of milk powder over Chinese tourists in Amsterdam have become trending on Chinese social media networks Weixin and Weibo. Many netizens are angry with the men for insulting Chinese people. A commission has been set up to take legal actions against them.  

Chinese media report that two Dutch young men have recently attacked Chinese people with milk powder on the streets in Amsterdam. According to   Sina Weibo News, a Chinese netizen wrote on January 25 that two men in Amsterdam were looking out for Chinese people to pass by in the streets of Amsterdam, asking them if they wanted milk powder and then emptying a box of milk powder on them.

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According to Sina Weibo News, the attacks took place because Dutch people are not happy with Chinese people buying up milk powder in Amsterdam.

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The attacks occurred at different locations in Amsterdam, amongst others at the beginning of the Zeedijk, which is also known as Amsterdam’s ‘China Town’, and at the Stadhouderskade near the Heineken Brewery, which are both popular tourist places.

In the video, you can hear young men asking Asian-looking tourists if they want to buy some Nutrilon milk powder for twenty euros. They then proceed to throw milk powder over the tourists. “In the Netherlands, they are open about drugs and prostitution, and there is a free market, what’s the problem with buying milk powder?” one Weibo netizen wonders. “Only losers would take out their own frustration on other people like that,” another user responds. “They are only wasting milk powder like this!” one other Weibo netizen writes.

The two boys, who are named Rome Terbeek en Kenzo Hanter, have apologized for their actions in another video after their ‘prank’ caused controversy on social media in the Netherlands. In the video they say: “Hereby we would like to apologize for the prank we did in Amsterdam. We don’t have anything against Chinese or foreigners, but that is what it is made to look like now. We thought it would be a funny video and never thought it would turn out this way.” Their apology was also covered by Chinese media.

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Although the prank allegedly had no connection with Chinese buying up milk powder, Chinese media do connect this issue to earlier incidents where the ‘panic buying’ of milk powder has led to aggression, such as in last November in Rotterdam, where two Chinese got into a fight over milk powder (screenshot below).

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The boys have apologized, but the video and pictures have already become a much-discussed trending topic on Weibo under different hashtags, one being “Chinese splashed with milk powder” (#华人被泼奶粉#). Most Chinese netizens think the news has a direct connection to China’s milk powder problem, and many people are angry at the young men for insulting and bullying Chinese people this way and scold them on Weibo: “You fuckers really have a problem!” or “These fuckers really deserve a beating”, and “We should spill something over these son-of-a-bitches!” and “I only have a middle finger for you two!”

Chinese state media Xinhua and Tencent News report that the Chinese embassy hopes that legal measures will be taken against the two boys. The Chinese embassy in The Hague has stated on 27 January: “We are shocked that this nasty incident has happened in the Netherlands. We hope that the Dutch side will legally deal with this incident and that they will take the necessary measures to avoid such a thing happening again” (“我们对在荷兰发生这样的恶劣事件感到震惊,希望荷方依法处理并采取必要措施,避免此类事件再次发生”).

According to Xinhua News, Chinese media has been in touch with Dutch criminal lawyers, who think that the conduct of the two Dutch men could be classified as slander, discrimination, and bringing intentional harm to others. The Chinese community in the Netherlands has held a meeting and has decided to set up the “Dutch Overseas Chinese Rights Commission” (“荷兰华侨华人维权委员会”). They have asked the victims of the incident to come forward, as the Commission will help them in taking legal action against the men.

“This might have been just a street prank,” one netizen says: “but the issue of milk powder is a very sensitive one for Chinese people. It is just as insulting as it would be for a Muslim to be confronted with a pig’s head.”

Some examples of Chinese (state) media covering this news:
Global Times
Phoenix News
Epoch Times
China Youth
China Bridge
Sina News
China News Service
Sohu News

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 11.38.56

Screenshot of China Bridge News, naming the two boys and quoting a social media comment of a netizen who calls himself Geert Wilders (a well-known Dutch politician) and who says: “Guys guys, why would you do this? You know Nutrilon doesn’t care about this, they make loads of money.”  He also says: “Why would you bully Chinese people? They are very well integrated in the Netherlands! They are always very calm, why don’t you dare to bully people of other nationalities?” 

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 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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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ed Sander

    January 28, 2016 at 11:13 am

    What makes you assume these were tourists?

    Ed

  2. Avatar

    Pepsi

    January 28, 2016 at 11:26 am

    I was so angry when I saw this I was shaking. If any country knew anything about China, the Chinese, their traditions and culture, they would not even consider such a childish move. I, myself, have had 20+ years experience of the country itself.
    Baby milk is valuable in China, the powder on their shelves holds no nutrition, not their fault, but their governments fault. The country doesn’t have such luxuries which is why milk powder is bought abroad by many parents.
    I’m surprised the Chinese tolerate us westerners still and wouldn’t blame the Chinese if they rebelled. Which they won’t because they don’t like confrontation or debate.
    The Chinese are peaceful people. For all who are from outside of China…treat the Chinese with respect and how you yourselves wish to be treated. Otherwise, LEAVE THEM ALONE AND IN PEACE!

    • Avatar

      Sander from Holland

      January 28, 2016 at 4:33 pm

      Hmmm… I think you missed that communist part of their culture. I had to work together with a Chinese girl for a few months and I noticed her enormous shyness and she was also afraid to tell about her country. She even was afraid for repercussions, even in Holland/Netherlands for the slightest critics onto her country. For me unimaginable that this is still possible in 2016

    • Avatar

      laowai

      January 30, 2016 at 6:03 am

      @Pepsi
      This was a tasteless joke and not funny at all. But you’re really a little whiner, my god.
      I live in Shanghai and I can tell you that there are a lot of Chinese who are not peaceful. So stop crying and get a life

    • Avatar

      Jason

      May 25, 2016 at 12:40 pm

      Thank you for your understanding, as an exchange student in Barcelona, I am feeling shocked to see that as well. We buy the milk powder because we want our babies to grow up safely.

  3. Avatar

    LOL

    January 28, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Haha don’t get your panties in a bunch, it’s a tasteless joke but still pretty funny. Realize this is funny to some Dutch people as Chinese people literally fight each other over baby powder in our stores and more often then not baby powder milk is not available to Dutch people because Chinese people buy it all to resell it to China 😉

    The world would be a better place if folks wouldn’t get insulted so fast..

    • Avatar

      Sander from Holland

      January 28, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      It is literally a matter of life and dead for the Chinese, because they poison all their milk in China

    • Avatar

      A. from Groningen

      March 14, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      If this was the other way… Chinese adults throwing dirty water on Dutch tourists / Dutch students in China, you wouldn’t find it so funny. This is worse when baby milk-powder is actually a very sensitive topic in China.
      I am a Korean-Brit in the netherlands, I’ve gotten pushed off my bike while riding at times while being called a Shanghai c*nt wh*re. 🙂 I’ve had people chasing me around telling me they want to rape me :)….. because I am an asian looking woman.
      It’s not nice. It’s not funny.
      It IS insulting. And its frightening.

    • Avatar

      Bjorn

      March 15, 2016 at 5:43 am

      It’s tasteless, not funny, and uncalled for. Besides, powdered milk is scarce because factories don’t produce enough, you can’t blame Chinese people. What people do with products bought in supermarkets (use it themselves or resell) is up to themselves.

  4. Avatar

    Really?

    January 28, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    @Pepsi:

    The chinese people are peaceful people?
    Maybe, but tell that to the people in Tibet. They have a different experience with the Chinese.

    • Avatar

      Jason

      May 25, 2016 at 12:46 pm

      Don’t mix up Chinese citizens with Chinese governments, and you do not understand the real situation on What Tibet is going through. Just like Catalonia wants independence, some people in Tibet wants independence but they could not represent the whole population of a region, what you hear and see is simply what those people wants to show.

  5. Avatar

    Maaike

    January 28, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    This just makes me so sad in many ways. Personally, I don’t think how anyone above the age of, let’s say, 5, could find this funny. But there’s no accounting for taste. Still, it angers me that people out of boredom spill good food, while others are starving, while at the same time being a real nuisance to the people they poke fun at. Shame on you, boys, shame on you…

  6. Avatar

    Simon

    January 28, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Reactions on a Dutch blog where this was published were all very negative. These guys have the brains of a shrimp and are not funny at all.

  7. Avatar

    Sander from Holland

    January 28, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    I sincerely hope for this guys the Chinese laws don’t apply here in the Netherlands. I can imagine the Dutch government will be held under pressure by the CCP to punish these guys, because of the economic dependency of Holland to China. They probably won’t survive it and their families can buy their organs back…

  8. Avatar

    Peppi

    January 28, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    I had to laugh at the Chinese Embassy in the Netherlands in this article, they are notorious for refusing to pay their rental fee of the building, and they don’t care. But now they want justice?

  9. Avatar

    Henk

    January 28, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    I am Dutch and there is absolutely no excuse for such behavior. Hell nobody cares if Chinese buy the milk powder especially not those two boys. They are plain and simple just morons trying to be funny to get attention. If I saw them do it I would punch them in the face until they apologized. I feel really bad for their victims. Let’s hunt them down, and hand them over to the authorities.

  10. Avatar

    Dutch J

    January 28, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    =January 28, 2016 at 5:57 pm
    Hell nobody cares if Chinese buy the milk powder especially not those two boys.=

    Oh hell yes we care. More often than not, Dutch nationals stand for an empty shelf because the milkpowder has been hamstered by the Chinese.

    The fact that babies die in China because of bad powdered milk is not our problem to begin with but becomes so because our product gets bought up in wholesale to ship it to China.

    • Avatar

      Ting

      September 20, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      I’m chinese, but I’m absolutely against the chinese people buying up milk powder in europe, no matter they’re tourists or residents. Those people have very good excuses to cover themselves up, such as: we care about our own people, or we’re doing it in legal way, not robbing or stealing, we’re buying with money! The hell they care, it’s money they are making out of, living in another country but causing problems to the local people, not trying to integrate into the country but doing such business, robbers with money. At the same time they show off on Weibo about their “happy” lives in Europe, I see these people as real losers.
      Now that I’m living in Germany myself, I’ve always planned to write one article about this phenomenon, instead of focusing on the milk powder scandle or food safety in China, I’ll write about the people who are doing this. It’s not only about milk powder, but also other baby stuff.
      I want to say to those chinese people: fingers off! (in real life I would say that in Chinese though)

  11. Avatar

    Ed Sander

    January 28, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    True, this punks could not care less about milk powder themselves. But the fact that they came up with this ‘prank’ does prove that the issue of milk powder and Chinese is a sensitive and controversial one.
    This recent Dutch article gives a very thorough analysis of the problem: http://www.deondernemer.nl/nieuwsbericht/38064/babymelkmaffia-deinst-nergens-voor-terug

    To me, the biggest Chinese mystery has always been that Chinese government can employ 2 million people to police the internet, but they can’t clean up an essential sector like the dairy industry.

  12. Avatar

    Sjaak

    January 29, 2016 at 12:50 am

    Ok it might have been stupid prank like most pranks are.
    Dont take it so hard, nobody got hurt and if China wants more Nutrilon than ask the producer to produce more.
    I think not long ago they decided to produce it in Germany specially for Chinese market.
    Give it some time.
    Oh and they’re €10-12 here 😉

  13. Avatar

    Richard Woltz

    January 29, 2016 at 1:22 am

    I am Dutch and think these two stupid boys are very confused about the concept of humour.

  14. Avatar

    T

    January 29, 2016 at 1:36 pm

    What a stupid behavior. In Holland and Amsterdam especially, we don’t have any problems with Asians and/or Chinese people. As a Dutchman living in Amsterdam I feel really embarrassed by this ‘joke’.

  15. Avatar

    Jan

    January 29, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    L.s.

    In any country you have scum.
    This is a Dutch guy – scum
    and an Maroccon guy – scum.

    Most people in Amsterdam are nice.
    Too bad they have not been beaten up.

    I am a 4th generation man from
    Amsterdam.

    Now fanatic Muslims are invading Holland/Europe so things will
    become much worse. I hope
    for the Chinese people to be more
    smart than Merkel and keep them out of your country. By the way.
    If YOU like these people please let us know We will be glad to send them over. We will pay the tickets.

    Take care.

    Han..

  16. Avatar

    frank man

    January 30, 2016 at 1:27 am

    We start a group on face book “NIET leuk,NOT amused,不再容忍,for the chinese communities in Holland to show they are not amused and we hope you will sign our petition too. Please support us.

    • Avatar

      laowai

      January 30, 2016 at 6:05 am

      Seriously, Frank man?
      Get a life, loser
      Lol

      • Avatar

        Walao

        July 12, 2016 at 4:26 am

        You live in Shanghai and you get your panties in a bunch over people speaking up for the chinese people? How about you get out of that country, “laowai”?

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China Arts & Entertainment

Chinese Movie ‘Home Coming’ Becomes National Day Box Office Hit

China’s latest patriotic blockbuster ‘Home Coming’ focuses on Chinese diplomats as the saviours of overseas Chinese in times of trouble.

Manya Koetse

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China has got another patriotic box office hit this National Day holiday. ‘Home Coming’ (万里归途) is inspired by China’s overseas citizens protection response during the 2011 Libya crisis, and is sparking waves of nationalistic sentiments.

On October 1st, China’s National Day, the Chinese movie Home Coming (万里归途) became a trending topic on Chinese social media after its cinema debut on September 30. On Saturday, the movie’s box office sales hit 200 million yuan ($28 million) (#万里归途票房破2亿#).

The National Day holiday, which started on Saturday, is a common time for Chinese domestic movies – often patriotic ones – to hit the theaters. It is one of the most profitable times of the year for Chinese cinemas and also the time when the biggest domestically-produced films are boosted while Hollywood movies are limited.

The 2022 Home Coming war drama was directed by Rao Xiaozhi (饶晓志) and features major Chinese actors such as Zhang Yi (张译), Wang Junkai (王俊凯) and Yin Tao (殷桃).

The film tells the story of Chinese diplomats Zong Dawei (大伟与) and Cheng Lang (成朗), who are ordered to assist in the evacuation of overseas Chinese when war breaks out in North Africa in 2011. Just when they think they’ve successfully completed their mission, they learn they have to return to save a group of 125 compatriots who are still left behind.

The movie is said to be based on real events but it is set in the fictional Numia Republic (努米亚共和国). According to Chinese state media outlet China.org, Home Coming is inspired by an evacuation event in Libya in 2011, when the Chinese embassy reportedly evacuated more than 30,000 Chinese nationals in a time frame of 12 days.

At the time, Chinese official media called it “the largest such operation China had mounted abroad since the Nationalists fled in 1949” and Chinese nationals were evacuated from the war-torn Libya via land, sea, and air (Zerba 2015, 107).

On Weibo, there are many reviewers giving Home Coming a five-star rating, with some saying the movie moved them to tears. “I needed four tissues,” one movie-goer said, while another person complained that they forgot to bring any tissues to dry their tears. In light of the movie’s premiere, photos of people crying while watching the film also circulated online.

Although there were also a lot of fans who especially loved the role played by the super popular Wang Junkai, many movie-goers expressed pride in China after watching the movie, which revolves around the idea of finding one’s way back home – back to China.

Although Home Coming is said to be the first film about a Chinese foreign evacuation from a diplomat’s perspective, there have been multiple domestic movies over the past decade focusing on Chinese civilians needing to be rescued from chaos erupting abroad.

In Operation Red Sea (红海行动, 2018), which also stars Zhang Yi, a Chinese special task force sets out on a risky mission to evacuate civilians amid civil war in the fictional ‘Republic of Ihwea’ – loosely based on the evacuation of Chinese citizens from Yemen in 2015.

At the end of the Home Coming movie, a text showed up on the screen to remind Chinese viewers to always get in touch with the Foreign Ministry hotline for assistance if they find themselves in an emergency situation while abroad.

Chinese movie star Wu Jing (吴京) also makes a cameo appearance in this film. Wu is most famous for his role in Wolf Warrior 2, in which he plays a special forces soldier who battles foreign mercenaries and helps Chinese and African citizens during a local war in Africa.

“My love for my country reached a new height after seeing this film,” one person wrote, with others applauding the efforts of Chinese diplomats and saying they were so happy be a Chinese national.

While Home Coming was trending on Chinese social media, last year’s patriotic hit film also went trending at the same time (#长津湖首播收视率第一#): Battle at Lake Changjin was aired on TV for the first time by CCTV-6 on the evening of October 1st. To read more about why that movie became such a major success, check out our article here.

By Manya Koetse 

References

Zerba, Shaio H. 2015. “China’s Libya Evacuation Operation: a new diplomatic imperative – overseas citizen protection.” In Suisheng Zhao (ed), China in Africa: Strategic Motives and Economic Interests, p 100-120.

 

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China and Covid19

Weibo Discussions: What is the Way Forward for China’s Zero-Covid Policy?

Political commentator Hu Xijin about China’s zero-Covid Policy: ” This fight is bound to be like navigating a boat against the current.”

Manya Koetse

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Over the past few weeks, while various regions across China have been dealing with a surge in new Covid cases and ongoing local lockdowns, there have been more online discussions regarding the future of China’s zero-Covid policy.

Facing another local outbreak and lockdown, people in Shenzhen’s Shawei in the city’s Futian District clashed with local officers on September 26. People were chanting: “Lift the Covid lockdown!”

The well-known Chinese political commentator Hu Xijin (@胡锡进), former editor-in-chief of state tabloid Global Times, published a lengthy post on his Weibo account on Monday, focusing on the current discussions surrounding China’s Covid policies.

Hu Xijin

In his post, Hu explained the perspectives of people on both sides of the Covid debate, and why many people want China to ‘open up’ while there are also those who are still defending China’s prevention and control measures to contain the virus.

Hu also argued that more experts should come forward with suggestions and views based on science in order for the online discourse to focus more on science and rationality rather than letting the discussions be dominated by loud voices on social media.

 

This is a (loose) translation of the full text in Hu Xijin’s post (translation by What’s on Weibo):

 

“The epidemic has had an influence on all Chinese people, and it has affected the face of China’s current economic and social operations in all areas. Recently, however, there have been fewer reasonable discussions on epidemic prevention policies. Many experts have gone silent while the slogans thrown around on the internet are increasing, and they’re all opposing each other. This public opinion environment is evidently not constructive regarding China’s next steps in the fight against the epidemic, and it certainly doesn’t help to create a realistic response to the continuous changes in the epidemic.”

“I’m not an epidemic expert, but I hope to contribute by promoting rational discussions on epidemic prevention. Let me first go through the two main types of views right now of those calling for “liberalization” and those opposing it.”

“The view of the “liberalization” group: it has been proven that Omikron and its variants simply cannot be contained, and there is overwhelming evidence that these variants already have a lower mortality rate than influenza. Lockdowns in various areas, especially the long ones, severely restrict people’s freedom and are detrimental to physical and mental health. The constant “static management”* (静态管理) everywhere has severely impacted the economy and had led to business closures, unemployment, and depression. Long-term lockdowns and control have also led to China being more shut-off and isolated from the rest of the world. In short, they argue that China holding on to a policy of prevention and control along with the rest of the world is a choice that China should and must make.” [*a type of ‘lockdown’ that still allows some essential businesses and public services to stay open.]

“The view of opponents of “liberalization”: they argue that it is a fact that the epidemic is not over, and that there is no certainty that the virus will continue to weaken – there is still a possibility that the virus will become stronger again. The countries that “let go” [of Covid measures] were forced to do so. But if China opens up, all previous efforts might go to waste and we could face an immense wave of hundreds of thousands of deaths; it would create a serious strain on our healthcare and cause a humanitarian disaster. Although China is currently facing short-term difficulties, the past three years of the epidemic have shown that overall the economic costs of China’s epidemic prevention have been relatively low. We must persevere now, and when the time is ripe we won’t be too late to “liberalize” and, considering everything, another six months or so won’t really matter. It is also not necessarily true that the economy will jump back up once we open up. So many countries across the world have opened up but there are few where the economy is actually doing well. When there are viruses everywhere, there will be a lot of households with elderly people and young children that will stay away from public places. In most areas in China, on the other hand, they are going out without any worries, which supports consumption. They say that China is harming itself by isolating from the world, [but] China’s foreign trade has actually increased since the pandemic and not decreased. A part of foreign trade is experiencing temporary and specific challenges but that does not apply to the overall situation and the reality is that the world’s demand for China is growing.”

“It is worth noting that most of those opposing China ‘opening up’ generally also oppose the arbitrary implementation of “static management” and excessive epidemic prevention, arguing that the ‘one-size-fits-all’ kind of epidemic prevention is a manifestation of local officials in epidemic areas trying to protect official bureaucracy. “

“Overall, there is a political atmosphere surrounding the online discussions on epidemic prevention, and the viewpoints of the people whose voices are the loudest are highlighted. I think this is a bad trend, and we should stop it. I believe that experts should come forward more and publish their suggestions to bring the epidemic discussion back to the realm of science and reason. Even if we can’t completely do it, we should strive to do so.”

 

“Countries across the world have collectively lost the battle and have accepted the natural consequences of the Covid pandemic, including deaths and Long Covid. Only China is still fighting.”

 

“In order to advocate [China’s] “liberalization,” we must find reliable answers to some crucial questions. The death rate of Omicron is low, but the infection rate is high, so the overall death total is still not radically reduced – even in America every day a few hundred people are still dying because of it, – how can we solve this problem? When fever and severe cough is all around us, even if it’s not deadly, entire families might fear for the lives of the elderly and their children once they find themselves in such a situation, and everyone will rush to the hospital. How do we prevent our medical systems from becoming overwhelmed? And what’s actually going on regarding Long Covid? The UK has two million cases of Long Covid and the US has around four million cases, it is affecting the quality of life for many people, how do we see this problem? And in case we “open up,” how would it affect the number of people still coming to shopping malls, subway stations, restaurants, and cinemas? China is not like American and European societies, the public’s mental state is relatively fragile. We need experts to come up with credible predictions and measures that can be taken.”

“Those who oppose the easing of preventive and control measures should respond to these kinds of questions: how would we solve the constant ‘static management’ [lockdows] in some regions? How do we address the problems of the travel flow between regions not being smooth and the disruption of supply chains in production areas? Would it be possible for us to achieve, over time, a mature upgrade of the prevention and control system while avoiding widespread lockdowns and obstruction of domestic travel?”

“Omicron is a big problem for humanity, and the reality is that countries across the world have collectively lost the battle and have accepted the natural consequences of the Covid pandemic, including deaths and Long Covid. Only China is still fighting. But this fight is bound to be like navigating a boat against the current. We need to let the whole society grasp the difficulty of this battle, make them understand how hard it is for the country to make “and/and” [both economy and public health-related] strategic decisions to safeguard the interests of 1.4 billion people. There will not be an easy way to solve all the issues and eliminate all systematic problems. China can only constantly weigh in the pros and cons to find the way with the least relative disadvantages. I believe that if we talk things through, although there will always be complaints in the public opinion arena, everyone or at least the majority of people will eventually understand the good intentions and necessity of the country’s strategic decisions, and our society as a collective will continue to keep up with the state policies ahead.”

The post, which received over 55,000 likes, also got many responses.

One popular comment said: “I don’t oppose the epidemic prevention, I oppose how ‘one solution fits all’! As quickly as possible we should push for [local] Health Code apps to recognize each other and stop with making people isolate and stay home in low-risk areas.”

Some people appreciated Hu’s post and were glad that it explicitly stated some issues that are usually not mentioned in official discourse on China’s Covid battle. “Finally someone is admitting that the virus won’t go away,” one commenter said.

But there were also people who thought Hu Xijin was missing some points. One person responded: “The grievances of the people are so deep, yet no official has spoken out, do they think the voices of the people are not important at all?” Another person mentioned: “It’s not that the experts are silent; they are afraid to speak up.” Some asked: “Who has made them go silent?”

 

“Is our epidemic prevention really still about preventing the epidemic?”

 

Another Weibo user mentioned that it is not about control versus freedom in China’s Covid fight, but about excessive measures – not too long ago, news that authorities in Xiamen were also doing Covid tests on fish and crabs made its rounds on Weibo: “Isn’t excessive prevention the biggest waste of energy? They’ve opened up in foreign countries for so long, aren’t they the best example? Don’t you want to believe the people? Why are we still worried about Chinese people having a frail mental state? Let’s hurry up and stop this laughable excessive epidemic prevention, we’re all tired.”

“Is our epidemic prevention really still about preventing the epidemic?” others wondered.

There were many people who agreed with this, and one of the top comments said: “I don’t support opening up completely, but I oppose excessive epidemic control, and this is a view that is held by most Chinese.”

Online discussions on the future of China’s Covid policies first started flaring up during the Shanghai lockdown in April of this year, when people started posing questions on why people who barely show any Covid symptoms should still be quarantined at centralized quarantine locations, fearing cross-infection or re-infection due to the crowded and sometimes chaotic living conditions.

At the time, more Chinese officials and experts started emphasizing the importance of sticking to the “dynamic zero-COVID strategy” as the best way forward for China, meaning rapidly responding to new Covid cases, precise prevention measures, and controlling and extinguishing local outbreaks as fast as possible to avoid further spread of the virus and drastically reduce the number of people getting sick.

In order to “amplify authoritative voices” to weigh in on this kind of discussions, Weibo launched its Hongru Open Media Plan (#鸿儒-媒体开放计划#) earlier in 2022, using it as a platform to highlight ‘expert’ opinions.

China’s leading experts on Covid-19, including the renowned scientists Zhong Nanshan (钟南山), Zhang Wenhong (张文宏), and Li Lanjuan (李兰娟), have published and spoken up about the virus and the epidemic situation in China throughout the years.

In a recent interview, Chinese epidemiologist Li Lanjuan said that Covid-19 is a ‘Type B’ infectious disease that is currently managed as a ‘Type A’ infectious disease in China. Type A includes the plague and cholera, while infectious diseases classified as Type B are less severe and include bird flu, malaria, polio, and AIDS.

Li suggested that the management of Covid-19 would, in time, also shift to a ‘Type B’ management system and that Covid-19 will have less of an impact on people’s lives. A Weibo hashtag related to the topic was later taken offline.

Not long after, a hashtag titled ‘How Long Will ‘Dynamic Zero’ Go On?’ (#动态清零政策将持续多久#) was published on Weibo by China Youth Daily, referring to a press conference on September 7 where this question was asked by a foreign reporter. Although Chang Jile (常继乐), deputy director of the National Bureau of Disease Control and Prevention, did not give a concrete answer to the question, he emphasized that scientific research on Covid-19 is still ongoing and that China’s prevention and control measures are still “the most economical and the most effective.”

In the Weibo comment sections, one person wrote: “Still no answers. How long will this go on?”

Read more about Covid in China here.
Read more about Hu Xijin here.

By Manya Koetse 

Elements in the featured image by Fusion Medical Animation.

 

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