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China and Covid19

Getting ‘Pop-Upped’: The Most Hated Pop-Up Notification in China Right Now

A pop-up window doesn’t seem to bring anything good these days.

Manya Koetse

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Pop up notifications have become a much-feared phenomenon among Chinese mobile phone users recently. Last week, a Changzhou woman lost 90,000 yuan ($12,500) after clicking a pop-up ad in the super popular game ‘Sheep a Sheep.’ The pop-up turned out to be a fake ad showing a big cash giveaway, but in order to receive the money she had to transfer money herself and she got scammed (hashtag #女子玩羊了个羊被弹窗广告骗9万元#).

But feared much more than these scam ad pop-ups now are the Health Code pop-ups, which notify people that they are considered a contagion risk and have possibly come across someone who tested positive for Covid-19. (Read all about China’s health code system here).

The pop-up windows especially became a topic of discussion on Chinese social media in light of the recent new Covid cases in Beijing. On Monday, authorities reported 13 new infections in one day, bringing the total number of new Covid cases in the capital since September 29 to a total of 40 cases.

The Much-Dreaded “Pop-up 3” Message

Over the past weekend, as people were getting back to work after the National Day holiday, many Beijing residents received the much-dreaded “pop-up ③” message from the Beijing Health Code app Jiankangbao (健康宝). This means that the app – through the use of big data and the monitoring of people’s status and movements – has determined that you’re a possible contagion risk based on where you went at what time.

The Beijingers who received the pop-up message while they were in Beijing are supposed to report to their community/hotel/school so that “the relevant departments” can conduct a “risk check.” The pop-up window will not disappear until they are officially no longer considered a contagion risk.

The steps one needs to take in order to eliminate the pop-up messages vary per situation. Those who have received a pop-up because they returned to Beijing from another city, for example, need to get tested twice a day for three days in order to get rid of the pop-up (#低风险区返京后3天2检可解除弹窗#).

But many Beijing residents are angry about getting “pop-upped” (“被弹窗”) because they apparently received the warning for no good reason or because the pop-up does not seem to disappear at all.

“It’s been three days with two tests, the pop-up window is still there,” one person writes.

Another person writes: “I am really really angry. I am obviously in a low-risk area, there obviously have been no new cases the past week, it’s obvious that I stayed at home and did not go anywhere, it is obvious that my daily nucleic acid tests have all been negative, why am I still unable to remove the pop-up window, why!?”

As angry posts on this topic surfaced all over Chinese social media, the Weibo hashtag “Beijing Jiankangbao Pop-up 3” (#北京健康宝弹窗3#) was taken offline.

Another hashtag by Beijing Daily explaining what to do after you get the pop-up stayed online instead (#如何解除北京健康宝弹窗3#).

More Than Just a Pop-up Notification

The consequences of receiving the ‘pop-up 3’ go beyond an annoying pop-up window – it is causing sleepless nights for many. Some people say they are unable to buy train tickets as long as the pop-up issue is unresolved, and other Beijingers who are still outside the city are unable to return because of it.

Since the Health Code app is a virtual key to social movement, a pop-up blocking the QR code from being scanned is a nightmare for those who need to move around, work, shop, visit events, etc.

The system has definitely become stricter in recent times, and this is now commonly linked to the important 20th National Congress that begins on October 16.

Political commentator Hu Xijin seems to be an important voice to guide public opinion these days, and in one of his recent posts he called for understanding on both sides; asking authorities for more understanding on how such a pop-up influences the lives of residents, while also asking individuals to have more understanding for authorities trying to curb the spread of the virus through these measures.

Many people are calling the 12345 government service hotline to ask for help in resolving their pop-up window problem, but many are unsuccessful: “It’s been 11 days now, I’m tired.”

Others are pleading with Beijing authorities to improve their systems.

“I’ve returned from Yanjiao on the 3rd, according to the regulations I was supposed to stay in for 9 days but as for Beijing’s current regulations it’s 7 days, right? I’ve done 3 tests, why is my Beijing pop-up still not changing? What kind of policy is this?”

For others, it is not work or travel they care about most in light of removing the pop-up window: “All I wanna do is to go out to eat roast duck.”

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

Chinese Commentator Hu Xijin Expects to “Get Covid Within a Month” (and Why It Matters)

This Hu Xijin commentary can be seen as part of a wider trend of normalizing Covid in the Chinese online media sphere.

Manya Koetse

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Hu Xijin (胡锡进), the Beijing-based retired editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, recently published a post on the Chinese social media platform Weibo about him getting mentally ready to be infected with Covid-19 soon.

The former journalist Hu, whose posts and statements often go trending and influence public opinion, also made a few other noteworthy comments.

On Sunday (Dec 4), Hu posted: “Over the past week, China has essentially ended widespread lockdowns, with places like Beijing and others beginning to allow home quarantine for many positive individuals, while reducing the scope of nucleic acid testing. These are amazing changes.”

Four weeks ago, right before China introduced its twenty new Covid measures, Hu already argued that strict lockdowns are no longer sustainable and that China should aim for a more relaxed and local approach (which is exactly what happened).

Now, Hu Xijin says that he is “mentally preparing to be infected with Covid within the coming month” (“做好了在一个月之内被感染上的思想准备”), further writing:

In order for young people to have a colorful young era, in order to save the livelihood of so many service industry workers, in order for people from all walks of life to avoid seeing their wages cut, in order for so many companies to get out of their predicaments, this 62-year-old ‘Old Hu’ is willing to participate in the risk of getting [a virus that] degenerated to only 2.5 per 10,000 rate of getting seriously ill.”

Hu’s post was published on December 2nd in the context of Hu Says, a regular video column by Hu Xijin.

A few months ago, such a comment coming from such a big account would have been unthinkable.

In May of this year, those who tested positive still complained about suffering from stigmatization in society.

But Hu’s comments come at a time when there are more discussions about getting Covid and sharing the experiences of having Covid.

In the second week of November, shortly after Chinese authorities launched their updated Covid rules, the hashtag “What Is It Like to Catch Covid-19?” (#感染新冠是什么体验#) already went trending on Weibo, along with other hashtags informing Chinese netizens about what it’s like to get Covid – a virus that so many in China never experienced first hand.

Since Hu Xijin (1960) ended his career as the editor-in-chief of Global Times in 2021, his role as a political commentator has arguably become even more important and more visible on Weibo than before, especially in China’s challenging Covid times of 2021.

Some find him overly nationalistic, for others he is not nationalistic enough; there are those who find him reasonable, and then some say he is repetitive and just dancing to the tune of Party propaganda. But then there have also been some discussions – in light of Pelosi’s controversial Taiwan visit – about Hu misleading public opinion by not matching the official stance.

Whichever it is, some things are certain: Hu has some 25 million followers on Weibo, and he is often the first major media account that is allowed to discuss in detail some major sensitive social topics, even if these online discussions are otherwise being tightly controlled (think of the Tangshan BBQ Restaurant incident, the future of zero Covid, the Urumqi fire, and the 11.24 protests across China.)

Hu’s comments about ‘catching Covid soon’ can be seen as part of a wider trend of normalizing Covid in the Chinese online media sphere, preparing people to face a virus they are still unfamiliar with since ‘zero Covid’ has always been the main goal.

On December 3, Hu further clarified his comments about preparing to getting Covid. He explained he expects to catch the virus because he is active in the media environment, through which he unavoidably is in touch with many different people. He also promised that if he might get infected, he would share his Covid experience with all of his readers.

As the idea of catching Covid is becoming more normalized (there are more and more trending hashtags informing what to expect after getting Covid, e.g. #新冠发病7天内身体会发生什么变化#), people are also exchanging non-scientifical advice on how to prevent catching Covid, such as drinking licorice ginger soup, holding Sichuan peppercorns inside your mouth when going out, or getting silicon covers for the drains in the bathroom to prevent the virus coming through via neighboring apartments.

Some express their worries about catching the virus. “I’m really scared. I’ve already replaced all of my masks with K95 ones,” one Weibo user wrote: “My immune system has been weak since I was little, and I have allergies. I have the feeling that if I get infected I might lose half my life, if I don’t die (..) I’m in a state of panic.”

Even though China is still far from ‘opening up’, some people are already preparing to ‘live together with the virus,’ reminding others that getting vaccinated, keeping social distance, and washing hands are all measures that will help in preventing getting Covid.

“I am worried about getting Covid but I also want to open up,” some on Weibo said.

“As much as I wanted it all to end, this feels abrupt,” one social media user from Inner Mongolia wrote: “It won’t be the same as before. The thorough ‘zero Covid’ [policy] has gone. The country’s protection of our health has gone up to this point. I hope everyone can now take care in prevention themselves, and protect themselves and their families. I hope the epidemic situation will end soon, that the world will be ok, and that we can have our freedom.”

Meanwhile, Hu Xijin informed netizens on Saturday that he had some milk, boiled eggs, pastry and pickled mustard greens for breakfast. While working on his condition and nutrition, he says that if his Covid positive time comes, he will not get any VIP treatment. If allowed, he’ll either recover from home or go to a centralized Covid location.

He will just have to wait and see what happens, just as millions of other Chinese citizens are waiting to see what this winter is going to bring.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

The featured images are all images that went viral recently in light of China opening up (including nucleic acid testing booths being taken away).

 

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China and Covid19

Announced Changes in Nucleic Acid Testing and Further Easing of Covid Measures Across China

Bus and subway operators in Beijing will no longer refuse entry to passengers without a 48-hour negative nucleic acid certificate.

Manya Koetse

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On Monday, directly after that noteworthy unrest-filled weekend, the hashtag “Multiple Locations Announce Nucleic Acid Testing Changes” (#多地核酸检测通知发生变化#) went trending on Chinese social media, receiving over 660 million clicks by Monday evening.

Immediately following demonstrations in Beijing and a second night of protests in Shanghai and elsewhere, various Chinese media reported how different areas across the country are introducing changes to their current Covid19 testing measures.

On Wednesday, November 30, China’s vice-premier Sun Chunlan made remarks at a meeting on epidemic prevention, underlining the importance of “constantly optimizing” China’s Covid-19 response and talking about a “new stage and mission” – without ever mentioning “zero Covid.”

This is what we know about easing Covid measures thus far:

▶ Strict lockdowns have been lifted in Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, and Chongqing.

▶ On November 28, Guangzhou announced that people who do not actively participate in social life will no longer need to participate in continuous nucleic acid screening. This includes elderly people who stay indoors for long periods of time, students who take online classes, and those who work from home. The change will apply to residents in seven districts, including Haizhu, Panyu, Tianhe, and Baiyun (#广州7区无社会面活动者可不参加全员核酸#).

▶ Guangzhou, according to Reuters, also scrapped a rule that only people with a negative COVID test can buy fever medication over the counter.

Harbin will follow the example of Guangzhou, and will also allow people who are mostly based at home to skip nucleic acid test screenings.

▶ Same goes for Shenyang, and Taiyuan.

▶ In Chongqing, various districts have done widespread Covid testing campaigns, but the local authorities announced that those communities that have not had a positive Covid case over the past five days do not need to participate in nucleic acid screening anymore. This means an end to district-wide testing.

▶ On November 30, Beijing also announced that it will start exempting some people from frequent Covid testing, including those elderly residents who are bound to home and other people who do not go out and have social interactions. This also includes younger students who are following classes online.

▶ Starting from December 5, bus and subway operators in Beijing will no longer refuse entry to passengers without a 48-hour negative nucleic acid certificate (announced on December 2nd).

▶ Although not officially announced, there have been various social media posts and reports about Covid-positive people in Beijing being allowed to quarantine at home if they meet conditions.

Chengdu Metro announced on December 2nd that it will no longer check passengers’ nucleic acid test reports. Passengers still need to scan their travel code and those with a green code can enter. Other public places will reportedly also start to accept the ‘green code’ only without a time limit on nucleic acid testing.

Tianjin metro announced that the 72-hour nucleic acid certificate check will be also be canceled for passengers on the Tianjin metro lines. As in other places, people will still need to wear proper face masks and undergo temperature checks.

▶ In Hangzhou, except for at special places such as nursing homes, orphanages, primary and secondary schools, people’s nucleic acid tests will no longer be checked in public transportation and other public places. They will also stop checking people’s Venue Codes (场所码).

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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