The extended “Zero-COVID” lockdown in Xi’an, northwestern China, that lasted nearly a month resulted in many local disruptions and tragedies for many of the city’s nearly 13 million residents. Despite heavy censorship, numerous examples of callous or abusive behavior by Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials were captured and spread on Chinese social media.
Among netizens, these incidents, which include expecting mothers suffering miscarriages and lying in pools of blood outside hospitals that refused to admit them, as well as people being made to verbally thank the Party for receiving food under lockdown, elicited outrage and disbelief.
Last week, a video widely circulated on online platforms showed a neighborhood cadre aggressively rebuffing a woman’s inquiry about public lockdown policy.
“What requirements are there if we want to leave town? Could you let me know?” the woman can be heard asking community officials of Chanbayi Street in the Jan. 22 video.
“I won’t tell you!” a man who appeared to be the officials’ leader said several times in loud response, before yelling “Get lost!”
The official then appeared to strike the woman’s phone out of her hand.
Many netizens commented on the video, which quickly went viral. “‘Get lost’ is a perfect reflection of [Chinese] bureaucratism,” one post reads.
Others produced sarcastic remarks, such as “If the people all get lost, who will be left for you [officials] to lead?” or “What a fine example of official administration!” Another user suggested that the cadre’s behavior was ill-suited to his rank, saying, “He’s just a low-level official, yet his arrogance stinks to high heaven!”
‘I am the leader here, shut up!’
CCP officials are notorious for both abusing and flaunting their power, earning them hatred and derision from ordinary citizens. The repeated and draconian lockdowns have only worsened the situation, with many internet users posting about their unfortunate encounters.
A video posted on Twitter on Jan. 24 shows a young man with a bloodied face explaining how, when he tried to deliver food to his hungry grandmother, cadres in a village near Xi’an blocked his way, beat him with a stick, and smashed a brick in his face.
“I went to Xiwu Village to see my grandmother,” the man says haltingly. “Sun Zhaoqi [the village cadre] hit me in the face with a brick.”
西安一男子担心自己年迈的奶奶吃不上饭，冲卡去探望，结果被拿着鸡毛当令箭的中共村干部打得满脸是血！ pic.twitter.com/YVw0YaCZvL— 真相傳媒 (@TruthMedia123) January 24, 2022
An earlier video from Xi’an shows epidemic prevention staff and a self-described official berating a tenant while the latter tried to resolve a matter.
“I am the leader here, shut up!” the man, who appeared to represent a property management firm, said in the Jan. 19 video. The COVID-19 control staff said, “Tenants have no right to speak! Can you get a COVID test here! If not, go back!”
西安防疫无能、折腾百姓有术，原因在于有这些豪橫的领导。 pic.twitter.com/EirgumDUcS— 鲁 难 (@lunanweiyi) January 20, 2022
In China, business is often interconnected with the CCP, leading influential people to adopt the political term “leader” (ling dao) when dealing with those they see as below them in rank.
A netizen commenting on the video under the handle “Laozhao” described on Jan. 20 his take on the dynamic: “Higher leaders don’t dare do anything that affects their position, so they hide behind and put constant pressure on these lower-level officials. They make these cadres bully the common man at the bottom.”
Another comment expresses outrage at the “leader’s” arrogance, saying “It seems things were better before 1949 [the year the CCP seized power] than they are now.”
Young woman freezes to death at a checkpoint after waiting 16 days for entry
An even more tragic event that attracted widespread attention was the death of a 29-year-old woman in Xi’an, who succumbed to the winter weather after being forced to wait 16 hours outside a checkpoint of her residence.
“Security wouldn’t let her in the gate,” the woman’s relative, a netizen posting on Twitter as “Follow Me,” said.
“My older sister was 29 years old this year, she worked at Shaanxi Zexi Supply Chain Co., Ltd., a company that helps supply the city during the lockdown,” the user wrote.
“But she was suddenly fired on Dec. 31, 2021. The security guards in the West City Harbor of Huafu, Lianhu District, refused to let her in, and she was forced to stay in a car on the side of the road for 16 days in severely cold winter weather. She died in the car. A young woman was extinguished just like that.”
“She was working to guarantee the people’s welfare during the pandemic, but she was not even able to guarantee her own survival! She wasn’t allowed into her residence just a step away, and died in her car. Here I beg society to give my sister justice!”