Ying Yong, known across China for his success as governor of Shanghai, has just been installed as the top Communist Party official in Hubei Province. With the party investing so much in his performance, it's understandable that he's resorting to even more extreme measures to try and wait the virus out in Wuhan, the city of 11 million where it all began.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the coronavirus outbreak is the steady stream of video clips that are seemingly smuggled out of China, but really they're displayed on American social media through a kind of Internet osmosis: Westerners who use Chinese social media like Weibo sometimes search for and copy the content before it can be deleted by Chinese censors, giving foreigners an unvarinished glimpse into the horrors of the outbreak and China's draconian response.
Whatever you have done, or whoever you are , do you deserve being treated like this? One of the many scenes in #China during #CoronavirusOutbreak 一场#武汉肺炎 疫情，将多少的丑陋展现在世人眼前。#新冠肺炎 #全民反抗 #全民自救 #全民互救 pic.twitter.com/PG6rJyl2a2— 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 14, 2020
Chinese government officials have referred to the new quarantine measures being implemented in Wuhan (and soon likely throughout Hubei) as 'war time' measures - in keeping with President Xi's 'People's War' rhetoric.
Screenshots from the video clearly show a group of mostly younger people without masks being led by a handful of masked individuals who don't appear to be wearing any kind of uniform. The reason why they are all bound together is unclear.
In another disturbing video, a young girl wails as the body of her dead mother is carted away. Her father reportedly died days ago.
Girl wailing when mother’s body driven away. Her father already died 20 days ago. One of the many scenes in #China during the #coronavirusoutbreak #COVID_2019 妈妈被拉走了，爸爸 20天前也以死于 #武汉肺炎 #新冠肺炎 pic.twitter.com/FLmMHfMDx7— 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 14, 2020
Apparently in Wuhan, there has been a rash of people showing little to no symptoms just collapsing in public.
Another one. Can’t figure out what they are saying. Obviously someone suddenly fell in public. It is very worrying that people could collapse without showing any symptoms. #COVID2019 #coronavirus 又一个倒地的。无征兆倒地前的传染性是最可怕的。#武汉肺炎 #新冠肺炎 pic.twitter.com/mqHJg7lqva— 曾錚 Jennifer Zeng (@jenniferatntd) February 14, 2020
The situation is getting so dire, one media outlet published a story about how funeral homes in Wuhan and Hubei are importing help as they struggle to keep up with the bodies.
It's no longer just hospitals that send help to #Wuhan to fight the #coronavirus, now at least three funeral homes have sent teams there. Locals are saying it’s hard to think about why more staff is needed.— NTD News (@news_ntd) February 14, 2020
“They cannot keep up with cremation," a Twitter user wrote. pic.twitter.com/9OPD0WQx8U
Imagine how you would keep if your government did any of this to you?
Also, Beijing is using its vast media control and state censorship power to project an image of strength and poise. President Xi's remarks have been brimming with optimism - China will be stronger for having overcome this outbreak.
But to outsiders and, increasingly, Chinese living inside the CCP-induced media bubble, the cognitive dissonance when there are still people dropping the street and others being arrested for leaving their homes is just too jarring.