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People Locked Down in Shenzhen, China Take to Rooftops to Protest Tortuous ‘Zero-COVID’ Policy

A native of New York, Alina has a Bachelors degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College and writes about human rights' related issues, politics, tech and society.
Published: March 21, 2022
Residents queue to undergo nucleic acid tests for COVID-19 in Shenzhen, China on March 14, 2022. (Image: STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Even as Shenzhen announces the easing of certain COVID-19 restrictions by allowing some factories and public transportation to resume operations, many frustrated residents have taken to social media to protest the lengthy lockdowns that remain in place for many parts of the city. 

Videos have shown several districts in the city are still under lockdowns that have lasted over two weeks. NTD Television reported on March 20 that some residents in Shenzhen could be seen banging on pots and pans as a way to protest the lack of government support and ongoing lockdowns that have disrupted their everyday life. 

According to Chinese authorities, a total of five districts will reopen from a citywide lockdown, allowing workers in those areas to return to work. Certain train and bus services will also resume operating on March 18 after being shut down for over a week. The rest of the city will remain subject to movement restrictions.

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Amidst the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) “people’s war” on COVID-19, authorities have strived to bring the virus under control by imposing a wide variety of measures. In a statement on March 17, the Shenzhen government’s health commission claimed it was providing customized solutions to ensure business activities and production remain operational. 

The partial lifting comes less than a week after the city of Shenzhen, home to 17.5 million people, was suddenly locked down to curb the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant. 

Also on March 17, local officials announced that buses and subways in the city’s Yantian, Pingshan, Dapeng New District, and the Shenshan Special Cooperation Zone would be allowed to resume operations, alongside a few parks and squares that will also be given the green light to reopen. 

However, authorities reminded residents that the ongoing pandemic in Shenzhen is still severe and large gatherings should be avoided. A video posted on social media shows that a residential community named Weipeng Garden was supposed to have its lockdown restrictions lifted, but after a handful of new cases were detected, the community was once again placed into quarantine until further notice. 

In this video, a resident can he heard screaming that food supplies are running dangerously low and demanding for lockdown restrictions to be lifted.

Frustrated residents facing dwindling food supplies

Another residential district in Shenzhen has been under lockdown for 16 days and while some residents claim authorities said they had “met conditions” for restrictions to be lifted, the complex remained sealed shut from the outside. 

In the face of dwindling food supplies and essentials, some residents have taken to their balconies or rooftops to protest the prolonged lockdowns.

In this video posted on Twitter, a resident can be heard saying, “Our community has been held under lockdown for 16 days, and residents here are starting to lose their minds.”

According to another resident’s post, a new cluster was discovered in the Longqiu village of Shenzhen on the evening of March 18. In an effort to quickly squash the new outbreak, authorities dispatched buses and told residents they would be taken to a centralized quarantine site imposed by the government. 

Since the pandemic began in the central city of Wuhan in early 2020, the CCP regime has been seeking to navigate a path that limits disruptions to its economy, while holding on to a “Zero-COVID” strategy that has faced unprecedented challenges. The country has imposed more lockdowns over the past week than at any point in the pandemic, including Langfang, a city near Beijing, and in the northeastern province of Jilin. 

Uncertainty over prolonged lockdowns

Under the government’s COVID regulations, local authorities across the country have stringently upheld orders which have included disinfection theatrics, draconian lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions. In some cases, the heavy-handed measures have resulted in violence and tragedy as residents are sometimes arrested or even beaten if they are found to be breaking quarantine.

According to China’s National Health Commission, 5,280 new positive cases of COVID-19 were found on March 17, more than double the amount recorded the day before. This count excludes asymptomatic cases, though Beijing did offer data on those cases as well. 

In the nation’s financial hub of Shanghai, cases topped 250 on Friday as authorities started testing what they considered risky neighborhoods, with officials stating they will expand mass testing to the rest of the city in the next three days. Authorities also urged the city’s nearly 27 million residents to avoid going out and to work from home if they can.