March 12th, 2020

mom walk

the weird slow recovery

While the rest of the world is collectively freaking out and going through the same sort of stuff we did in January, here in China things are closer to getting back to normal.

In the past week, more restaurants have reopened in my village. The Dongbei (north-east) dumplings is back. A Guangdong char siu place is back. One of the 沙县小吃 Shaxian snacks is back. Some of the hardware stores are reopening and i even saw one of the barber shops has reopened.

On that hair-related note, i was on a Zoom call with a Shenzhen colleague today and he fretted about his long hair. I forgot to tell him about the barber in my village, but i suppose it doesn't matter because the fences are still up and there is still a motherfucking checkpoint that only allows people with the 通行证 residents' travel pass through.

The hilarious thing is that this morning my company's CEO announced that from Monday all offices of the company will be closed worldwide. Except in China, where the office will remain open.

Fair enough. It's been a month now with only 4 or 5 new cases in Shenzhen.

You wouldn't know it by how goddamn locked down we all still are. It's great that some of the shops are finally reopening, but there is still a mandatory facemask regulation in place everywhere outside the home, including the workplace. The guys in hazmat suits are still spraying down the city with foul-smelling chemicals multiple times a day. There are still checkpoints to get in and out of the villages, and the supermarket still has a temperature check. There are still no bars open. The "let them eat cake" bourgeois public service announcements are still advising people to drive private vehicles to work instead of take public transport. Or stand a meter apart and not speak or face one another if forced to take transport. Fuck this shit. This is not civilized society, this is fearful, hateful garbage.

But you know the worst thing? The fucking propagada. Xi Jinping had the fucking gall to visit Wuhan this week, and the newspapers are overflowing with praise at how he has singlehandedly steered the country to victory in "the people's war". Yes, the same smug shithead at the top of the inept political party that was literally the cause of the fucking pandemic in the first place. I cannot even. It's so disgusting.

Meanwhile, there is a new rumor in China that actually the coronavirus started overseas, and it was just bad luck that Wuhan turned out to be the first place where it hit. I mean, this is obviously fake news, and right now the world is knee-deep in fake news. But in China there is no excuse for letting fake news spread. The Chinese government can censor anything they please. They aggressively monitor trending topics and delete anything that doesn't follow the party line. For fuck's sake, they even arrest people for "spreading rumors" in group chats (see Li Wenliang etc). So why aren't they shutting down this conspiracy theory?

You all know why. Xi Jinping is a ruthless dictator who will stop at nothing to cement his hold on power. Having a decent chunk of the Chinese population believe that this coronavirus is yet another instance of the "black hand" of foreign forces trying to destabilize their great nation is a useful way to take attention away from the Ai Fen story (coronavirus whistleblower), the outrageous sentencing of Gui Minhai (Swedish bookseller who was abducted, forced to become a Chinese citizen so as to cut off his consular access, then imprisoned), the collapse of the hotel in Quanzhou that was being used to hold coronavirus patients, etc etc.

It's all so frustrating.

Anyway. Aside from the utterly shameful actions of Xi and his propaganda corps, i did want to get back on the topic of how things are slowly becoming less grim on the streets. It really is better. Yesterday i couldn't even get a seat at the 肠粉 place because four 大妈 (older women) were sitting out on the plastic stools, gossiping and grumbling like it was any ordinary day.

I've never been so happy to not get a seat at a restaurant.

The owners made a space for me inside at their prep table and i om nom nommed with a smile.

If y'all follow the same trajectory we did, you can expect a month of restricted movement and pretty much the only shops open being supermarkets and pharmacies. A huge number of people will either work from home or be stuck with no income at all. Then the cases will peak and people will either die or recover and businesses will gradually reopen.

Although, i do hope the lockdowns aren't as restrictive elsewhere as they have been here. It might be an effective way to curb the spread of the virus, but this is no way to live. Sigh.