Chengdu's COVID-19 lockdown extends, as buildings shake from Sichuan earthquake

Public anger over COVID-19 restrictions spreads as lockdowns reach more than 30 cities.
By Gu Ting for RFA Mandarin and by Lee Yuk Yue and Chingman for RFA Cantonese
Chengdu's COVID-19 lockdown extends, as buildings shake from Sichuan earthquake A police officer inspects a car outside the blocked section of Jinjiang Avenue, following a lockdown to curb the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China September 1, 2022.
cnsphoto via Reuters

Authorities in the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu extended a citywide lockdown affecting some 20 million people on Monday, as millions more people were placed under restrictions in the central city of Wuhan.

Some 90 percent of cities now have some form of COVID-19 restrictions in place, as the authorities battle to contain ongoing outbreaks of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus under ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping's zero-COVID policy.

Chengdu resident Ma Guoming said the lockdown has now been extended until Wednesday.

"Lockdown hasn't been lifted; it's been postponed in Chengdu from Sept. 5 to Sept. 7," Ma told RFA. "Kindergartens and schools are also delaying [the start of the new semester]."

"The number of infections keeps on increasing, so I don't know when this will end," he said.

Fellow Chengdu resident Zhang Yan said many people are also feeling anxious in the wake of a 6.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Luding country, Sichuan province, triggering landslides and shaking buildings in the city.

At least 21 people died in the quake, the epicenter of which was some 200 kilometers (125 miles) from Chengdu.

The quake will reawaken memories for many of the disastrous 7.9 magnitude quake in 2008 that left nearly 90,000 people dead, including thousands of schoolchildren.

In the central city of Wuhan, residents of Panlongcheng protested in their residential compounds over lockdowns that have lasted more than nine days.

Video of residents shouting "End lockdown, end lockdown!" while police vehicles gathered nearby on Sept. 2 were circulating widely on social media.

A resident of Wuhan who gave only the surname Shi said he had heard about the protest directly from friends who live in Panlongcheng.

"I just sent that video to my friends who live there, and they confirmed ... it did happen in Panlongcheng," Shi said.

Another Wuhan resident, who gave only the surname Fang, said there is widespread public anger over the ongoing restrictions.

"It's all about locking down and easing lockdown ... a lot of people are kicking up a fuss these days, saying they have been confined to their homes for a long time," she said.

"People still have mortgages to pay, and without a job, they don't have any money, so they are kicking up a fuss to get the lockdown lifted," Fang said.

Local officials issued a letter to local residents on Sunday, asking for their cooperation, and citing a "high risk of community transmission" in the area.

Residents line up to buy bread from the Paris Baguette bakery in Shanghai. Credit: Citizen journalist
Residents line up to buy bread from the Paris Baguette bakery in Shanghai. Credit: Citizen journalist
Other lockdowns

Officials across China are also calling on people not to travel home to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival if they can avoid doing so.

Zhang Hai, a resident of the southern city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, said lockdown restrictions have been lifted in his area, but that people still need a special pass to leave the compound.

"Six districts were locked down over two days," Zhang said. "Today, Monday, lockdown has been lifted where I live, and I can go out with a pass."

Meanwhile, residents of Shanghai turned out in large numbers to buy bread in support of a Korean-owned bakery chain, Paris Baguette, after the local authorities fined it more than 580,000 yuan (U.S. $83,650) for defying an order to shut up shop during local restrictions.

Local people are calling for the fine to be revoked, saying the stores acted in good conscience to ensure local people could still buy food.

"Everyone remembers Paris Baguette, not just in Shanghai, but across the whole of China," a local resident commented on a video uploaded to social media. "Their prices were exactly the same all through the pandemic, with no increase at all."

"Today, I went to Paris Baguette to buy bread ... just to support this business," the person said.

A Shanghai resident surnamed Wang said many people struggled to find enough food during the citywide lockdown, and Paris Baguette was fondly remembered for continuing to bake bread in defiance of a citywide order to shut down.

"This [fine] is really too much, because they were helping to meet a need for people," Wang said. "They shouldn't be punished."

The Korean company has more than 8,000 bakeries around the world, of which more than 300 are in China, selling French bread, sandwiches, cakes and coffee.

And in the southern city of Guangzhou, residents took to social media to curse out restrictions in their local areas, using the Cantonese language that is also widely spoken and written in Hong Kong.

Their comments, many of which contained the saltier swear words that Cantonese is known for, had apparently evaded government censors and automated blocks and filters, because the characters used to write them aren't recognized by a system trained in Mandarin syntax.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.