Insights into what Chinese workers are thinking about the restrictions surrounding COVID

Insights into what Chinese workers are thinking about the restrictions surrounding COVID

Last weekend, protests broke out in major cities across China. These protests, relatively few in number and mostly from the middle class, were dominated by demands to end the official policy of zero COVID-19 and end mass testing, quarantine and lockdown. Their slogan “We want freedom” reflected their hostility to necessary public health measures that undermined their way of life and, in some cases, their business interests. The end of COVID zero, which the Chinese government is implementing, will only result in a social disaster: mass infections, millions of deaths, and many more lingering cases of COVID.

Residents line up for the first round of mass testing for COVID-19 in Jingan District, western Shanghai, China, Friday, April 1, 2022. [AP Photo/Chen Si, Dossier] [AP Photo/Chen Si, File]

The voice of the working class is rarely highlighted on Chinese social media, and especially in online discussions about the zero COVID policy. Two posts by workers from different parts of China paint a starkly different picture of US and international media coverage misrepresenting last weekend’s protests as the voice of the people. Despite the difficulties they face, workers are very aware of the danger of infection and support the measures necessary to avoid it.

Food delivery people in Beijing

About two weeks ago, a food delivery man from Meituan, one of the two largest food delivery platforms in China, posted a message on social media.

On the morning of November 20, the apartment complex where he lived was under quarantine and no one was allowed in or out. A number of food delivery people decided not to live there anymore and left the complex before the lockdown was imposed. They feared they would lose their only source of income if they stayed put, as was the case last time the resort was closed for a week.

Together with 15 other deliverymen, they have been homeless ever since. As the worker describes in his post: “Some of us live in food delivery stations, some live in cheap hotels, but most of us sleep in the corridors of office buildings or at the entrances of restaurants. Temperatures in Beijing in late November reached the freezing point in the evening. Most of these “lodges” had no heating.

However, even these options were no longer possible. The worker continues: “As the restaurants in Beijing have stopped offering catering services, they are no longer letting people in.” [dormir] in place. As most people began to work remotely, it became more difficult to get into office buildings. Most of the working-class neighborhoods where you could find short, cheap lodgers were also locked down, and hotels were simply unaffordable.

The worker shared this post only to advocate for an affordable place to sleep at night. This situation is shared by many food delivery people who do not want to lose their income due to isolation and decide to be homeless.

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