What's Going on in Shanghai?

(Screencap via social media.)

Shanghai, Communist China’s massive commercial and shipping hub, is effectively under martial law according to social media posts from residents of the locked-down city.

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You can see more of the creepy-looking videos below, but first, a little background.

Beijing has been trying (and failing) to enforce a strict “zero COVID” regime, but exactly how soldiers and armored vehicles are supposed to fight a virus remains a mystery.

I kid.

The city hit a record 13,000 positive COVID tests on April 4 — all of them asymptomatic. Despite all those sick people not really being sick, Wu Qianyu, a municipal health official, said during a Tuesday briefing, “We must adhere to the general policy of dynamic clearance without hesitation, without wavering.”

Shanghai has been under strict — harsh, really — lockdown rules since the latest COVID breakout hit the city in March. Residents have been forbidden to leave their homes except to get tested. No movies, no strolls, not even any grocery shopping.

Infamously, the city sent up drones earlier this week to remind residents of their patriotic duty to do as they’re told:

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That was in response to desperate — not to mention hungry — locked-down residents taking to their balconies to beg for supplies.

That’s 25 million people in one of China’s vital megalopolises trapped in their homes and apartments.

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Beijing claims to have sent 10,000 additional health workers from across the country to Shanghai, including 2,000 military personnel.

The highly contagious Omicron BA.2 form of the virus is testing China’s ability to maintain its zero-COVID approach, which aims to stop outbreaks from spreading by isolating everyone who tests positive, whether they have symptoms or not.

Some residents tell a story quite different from the official line from Beijing.

Shanghai Lockdown

Chu Yang, a freelance journalist, also has a “suspected leaked document [that] shows that the lockdown in Shanghai will last until May.”

If Beijing were worried about possible civil unrest during such an extended and severe lockdown, you might expect to see scenes like this one:

It looks like the military moving into one of China’s uninhabited “ghost cities,” but this is actually a clip from the world’s busiest container port city.

If you’re thinking, “Here comes another supply chain screwup,” you aren’t alone.

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This next clip is a bit troubling, although I can’t vouch for those protective outfits being “gas-proof.”

Here’s one of a transport plane unloading masked troops and supplies.

Apparently, there’s a lot of that kind of thing going on in Shanghai this week.

So how’s it going with all those lockdowns and military personnel running roughshod over the people of Shanghai?

Not well:

Three local officials in Shanghai have been sacked over a slack response to the COVID-19 outbreak in China’s largest city, where residents are complaining of harsh lockdown conditions leading to shortages of food and basic necessities.

An official notice Friday gave no details of the allegations against the three officials, but said their failure to fulfill their duties in epidemic prevention and control had allowed the virus to spread, leading to a “serious impact” on efforts to control the outbreak.

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The city has been in various stages of lockdown — by most accounts, each of them far more strict than almost anything seen in this country — since the middle of March.

And yet Omicron BA.2 continues to sweep through the city, causing record cases.

It’s almost like no one thought to tell Omicron BA.2 that there was this zero-tolerance policy.

I do have to wonder what Chinese strongman Xi Jinping is thinking.

It’s clear that if COVID isn’t yet endemic, it’s going to be no matter what measures any country takes or how strict they are.

Making the lockdown a military affair only raises the stakes.

By clamping down against a virus he can’t defeat, Xi makes his Communist government look brutal — which everyone expects. But it also makes his government look ineffectual — which is something a strongman can’t afford.

Whatever is going through Xi’s mind, it’s clear the worst for Shanghai is far from over.

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