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People in Shenzhen Jump Off Buildings in Protest of Prolonged Lockdowns Under China’s ‘Zero-COVID’ Measures

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 24, 2022
A worker wears a protective suit as she stands in an opening in the fence of a barricaded community that was locked down for health monitoring after recent cases of COVID-19 were found in the area on March 23, 2022 in Beijing, China. China has stepped up efforts to control a recent surge in coronavirus cases across the country, locking down the entire province of Jilin and the city of Shenyang and putting others like Shenzhen and Shanghai under restrictions. Local authorities across the country are mass testing as China tries to maintain its zero-COVID policy. (Image: Kevin Frayer via Getty Images)

China has imposed stay-at-home orders on millions more people in the country’s northeast, as it tries to tackle its largest outbreak of COVID-19 cases since the pandemic started over two years ago in Wuhan. 

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been seeking to navigate a path that limits disruptions to its economy, while holding on to a “Zero-COVID” strategy, and has faced unprecedented challenges in doing so. 

China has imposed more lockdowns, mass testing and travel restrictions over the past week than at any point in the pandemic. Recently, Langfang, a city near Beijing, and the northeastern province of Jilin, as well as parts of Shenzhen and Shanghai have had more lockdowns enacted. 

Shenzhen is a sprawling city of more than 20 million people in southern China’s Guangdong Province and is widely regarded as the country’s tech hub and an important economic cornerstone.

Although Shenzhen has announced 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.

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Woman jumps from building, others starve

Recently, locked-down residents in Shenzhen have posted videos on social media showing the dire situation they are in after weeks of being locked indoors and food supplies rapidly running out.

Note: the below content includes graphic references of self-harm; viewer discretion is advised.

In the video, a woman can be seen jumping off a building in a locked-down community in Chengzhong village of Shawei, Shenzhen.

On March 23, a Shenzhen resident confirmed to the overseas-based Sound of Hope that the unidentified woman’s suicide occurred on the evening of March 21. “My husband witnessed it,” she said, “It was probably around 10 or 11 a.m. Many people gathered there after the incident took place, and police were called to the scene.”

Another man can also be seen jumping from a building and bystanders rushing to his aid when the video cuts off.

In this other video, a large number of police officers can be seen trying to keep an angry group of people under control as they protest the death of a resident who starved to death during the lockdowns. A woman can be heard saying, “a person has starved to death!” While another said, “We want to eat! We are starving to death. We have no food!” 

Many can be heard shouting, “We have no food! No food!” 

The Chinese captions read: “There was a riot in Nantou Street, Nanshan District, Shenzhen. The reason for the riot was that someone at Building No. 17 in Xiheng Lane, Guankou was starved to death. It was not even reported to the authorities.”

Some Twitter users added that Nantou Street was held under lockdown for 23 days without supplies or food being delivered, resulting in the death of that resident. 

Shenzhen authorities shift blame

Guo Qiang, a civil servant in Shenzhen who spoke under a pseudonym due to security concerns, told the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times that on March 22 there were contradicting statements from health authorities regarding the new lockdown measures. 

Guo said that the lockdowns had caused a huge impact on Shenzhen’s economy and revealed that authorities had planned to halt pandemic restrictions and allow people to resume work starting on March 17. 

“They couldn’t afford to keep it going. No one worked, so they would not pay taxes,” he said. However, after new cases were found on March 18, the lockdowns were again extended. “By March 21, they had to reopen most places because the economy could not take it.” 

Guo added that there were also contradicting opinions within the government. “The internal documents were contradictory. In order to save the economy, people have to go back to work, but the government’s ‘war on COVID’ has certain officers with different opinions opting to keep the lockdowns going.”

“The contradictions result in officials not knowing what to follow,” Guo said.

Even as Shenzhen, home to nearly 13 million residents in the city proper alone, starts to reopen its businesses, the country’s COVID-19 resurgence shows no end in sight. Since March 10, China has recorded 1,000 to more than 5,000 cases daily, though independent reports and analysis show the admitted figures are but a drop in the bucket.