This post of nonsense is written in English to avoid potential censorship of speech1. I write this post as a personal record of the chaos at the end(?) of the strict COVID regulation “era”, as well as a witness of an ongoing elimination(?) of public discussion. NOTE: I’m not quoting any factual sources here, so all will be my personal opinions.
Sharp turning, good or bad.
The major policy for public health is changing from strict, dynamic zero to a more open, tolerant attitude after the 20th national congress.
As an undergraduate student I have witnessed tons of chaos in regulation adjustments, and tons of complaints and conflicts between students and administrators. There have been many disagreements and debates on whether things will get better or not in the future. The feelings are rather mixed and complicated - hope, despair, expectation, fear, relief, worry…
It’s impossible to have an objective view when you’re just a tiny, stupid part of it. So I stepped away from debates and remained silent. But one thing is for sure: people’s tolerance to strict regulations have come to near zero - this is proved by multiple bursts of public opinion seething and even a number of protests (I don’t need to list those events one by one). The public confidence in dynamic zero policy is dropping, while complaints and doubts on the efficiency and necessity of ever-changing COVID regulations rising.
My point is that, regardless of the rise public health threats, it is almost a “must” to make adjustments on previous strict (and sometimes rigid) regulations. Socio-economic pressure was beginning to (mildly?) challenge the validity and stability of the regime. Adoption of more open, tolerant policies seemed to be necessary.
“Let’s look forward!”
If you pay attention, you would find a funny contrast between official propaganda before and after the 20th national congress. Before that, things went like “COVID is terrible”, “dynamic zero is the best!”, “we’re saving people’s lives”… While after that, things go like “COVID is just a flu2”, “‘I get COVID and recovered soon’”, “we’ve done well enough”…
But isn’t it obvious that simply showing individual cases is NOT representative at all? Is it correct to lower people’s awareness of prevention just by showing that several young, strong or rich people recovered quickly? How about the “potential side-effects of COVID” that used to be so propagated? Doesn’t it all look like a schizophrenia?
It is true that the COVID is evolving to be way more infective while less harmful, which makes the effort of dynamic zero policy steeping up while the benefit steeping down. I’m not a professional guy on medical science so not too much comments on reliability of various popular science posts. But the drastic change in propaganda looks too deliberate and makes me uncomfortable - it’s like a huge reminder of how public opinion is shaped, so apparent that you can’t ignore it. What I’m questioning is not how truthful these propagandas are, but the deliberation (and the way it treats the public as memoryless fools3).
I was chatting with my gf the other day, and she told me two little story.
- The Department of Sociology was about to hold an open lecture on topics related to sociological problems under the pandemic. However, before it started, it was changed into a close one, and students weren’t allow to attend anymore.
- A friend of her was about to use pandemic-related social survey data to complete her bachelor’s thesis. While applying for access to the database, she was told that the database is under inspection, and those pandemic-related questionaire might be deleted.
I wouldn’t be surprised if open-public discussions on national policies are restricted, though I’m really not a fan of it. However, what does it mean when even the freedom of academic research of social sciences is restricted? I used to think that this is probably the last piece of pure land to discuss sensitive social topics with objectiveness and intellect. It would sound quite unacceptable to me. I believe this is also bad for the authority itself, for restrictions on social sciences limits our understanding of selves, and eventually lowers rationality and efficiency of policies, laws, rules, etc.
Memory elimination - yes or no?
Based on everything above, I have a strong feeling that the official is trying to eliminate (or rewrite) public memory of what had happened for the past, (suspicously) just to make sure that the current regulations are seen as correct, also to avoid criticisms on previous dynamic zero regulations.
To eliminate the past 3 years of strict “anti-epidemic era” sound even more ridiculous than the elimination of discussion on the unrest in 1989. The latter was clearly an opposition to the authority, the suppression on which was sad, but yet common worldwide, like the downfall of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. But the dynamic zero era used to be something praised highly by the official, yet it seems to be thrown into a trash bin unnecessarily - somehow a negation of oneself.
Hearing about the deletion of pandemic-related data is probably the most shocking moment in my life, and I never felt that Orwell was so insightful to say,
“Who controls the present controls the past.”
I don’t want to loose the ability to explain history on my own. So I write this thoughts down as a witness. If, this post managed to survive for the following 5 years, I would like to see the way we tell the story of the past 3 years in comparison to this post.
Despite that you don’t have as crazy censorship as when you post contents on domestic platforms when using foreign ones,, it is still possible to get banned if the official send a request to the platform a request to remove your content, as is the case for github(link). Writing in English doesn’t stop them from censoring, but the post gets less “harmful” in a Chinese language environment (this may sounds stupid and only my wishful thinking though). ↩︎
This just reminded me of when we were laughing at Trump’s claim that COVID is just a small flu. ↩︎
which sometimes is unfortunately true(?) ↩︎