Residents in Locked-Down Xi’an Made to Say ‘Thank You, Communist Party’ When Receiving Food

By Juliet Wei | January 11, 2022
Juliet Wei covers China news and U.S.-China relations and has worked as a correspondent with Senate and House Correspondent Credential at Washington DC. She holds an M.A. in Specialized Journalism from the University of Southern California.
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Four Xi’an residents kneel on the ground while one of them loudly chants: "Thank you, Communist Party, thank you, government, for this food.” (Image: Screenshot via social media)

The city of Xi’an in China’s Shaanxi Province has been under a citywide lockdown since Dec. 23, 2021. Under the government’s stringent “Zero-COVID” policy, the city’s roughly 13 million residents have been subjected to the strictest containment measures, exceeding those enacted in Wuhan, where the pandemic originated in 2020. 

Residents have posted many videos on social media showing a dangerous decrease in supplies and the difficulties they are experiencing in obtaining food. Recently, several videos were posted where eight elderly people can be seen kneeling and giving thanks to the government after receiving a bundle of vegetables.

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Many of the videos posted on Twitter show that Xi’an officials have adopted a centralized isolation approach where if a single positive case is detected, the entire building’s residents are immediately moved to an isolation site for quarantine. 

The residents must remain there for an undisclosed amount of time, and there have been no reports of people being allowed to return home after being sent to these mandatory sites. 

Being made to thank the government when receiving food

Videos circulating on social media reveal that some residents are going hungry as they are not allowed to leave their quarantine sites to buy food. Residents were told that food and essentials would be delivered to their homes every day, however, this has not always been the case. 

According to one of the videos posted on Jan. 6, eight elderly people can be seen placing the supplies they received neatly on the ground. Among them, four of them kneel on the ground while one of them loudly chants: “Thank you, Communist Party, thank you, government, for this food.” 

In Xi’an, four people kneel on the ground while one of them loudly chants: “Thank you, Communist Party, thank you, government, for this food.” (Image: Screenshots via social media)

Another video circulating across Chinese social media shows a police officer recording the process of delivering plastic bags filled with food and supplies. One staff member grabs the bag and did not hand it to the resident until he hinted: “say the words.” The resident seemed to suddenly remember what to say, and replied, “Thank government.” Only after repeating the phrase were the residents allowed to receive the bags. 

A Xi’an resident is urged to say “thank you, government” upon receiving food. (Image: Screenshots via social media)

The video sparked public outrage, with many social media users voicing criticism. “Shouldn’t the government take care of its people?” one user said.

“Are you still thanking the government before you die of starvation?” another user questioned.

“Aren’t taxpayers’ contributions [that made buying the food possible] something we should be entitled to? Why not ‘thank all of the people of the country?’” one netizen wrote. 

Communist China: The ‘master of creating Stockholm syndrome’

Dr. Jingduan Yang, a U.S.-based psychiatrist and 5th-generation doctor of Chinese medicine and acupuncture, described many Chinese as apparently suffering from symptoms of Stockholm syndrome, a condition — named for a hostage situation that took place in Stockholm, Sweden in 1973 — in which victims bond with and show sympathy for their abusers. 

In a 2015 lecture at Harvard University, Dr. Yang said due to the Chinese Communist Party’s totalitarian dictatorship, many of the conditions for Stockholm syndrome, such as hopelessness and small favors provided by the victimizers, were in place throughout Chinese society.

“The victim can be one person, two people, three people, or a group of people — a whole country,” Dr. Yang said. “The CCP is the master of instilling fear and creating Stockholm syndrome among people.”

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