With the news coming out about the Wuhan virus, i am glad that i bought 3 days worth of food on Thursday.
The first time i was here for Chinese New Year i had no idea how barren the city would become, so i had a very hungry and miserable weekend. Last year i was more prepared, but i also lived on top of a Walmart, so it was easy to get supplies. This year i live in an urban village with no foreign chains, so the vast majority of shops and restaurants have been closed for a week already.
I bought noodles and tofu and peanuts and vegetables at the snooty supermarket near my work. Despite their cosmopolitan image, they still did not have any proper bread. I swear i am going to eat 锅盔 guokui (roti) every day for a week when my guy gets back in February.
Anyway, i have to cackle at all these foreign journalists sending photos of the empty streets of Wuhan (or whatever major Chinese city) and remarking on it being a ghost town. That's, like, entirely unremarkable in Shenzhen over Chinese New Year.
What is remarkable, though, is all of the movie theaters across the entire country shutting down and major foreign chains like McDonalds and Starbucks shutting down in several cities. If they shut down the foreign chains here, along with all the local shops that are shut down anyway, there really will be nowhere to buy food in the city.
I wasn't worried that Guangdong people would be as panicked as the folks up north (or the notoriously paranoid Hongkongers), but this morning the first city in the province announced a lockdown. It's Shantou, which is way out east near Fujian province, but it could set an example for cities in the PRD. I mean, i ride sharebikes everywhere so not much will change for me if they halt public transport and close up the artery roads, but still.
I'm hoping the Shantou thing is just local officials trying to pump up their personal brand by having the best-prepared city or being the most diligent cadre or whatever.
Honestly, the way the government has flipped the narrative on this whole thing is ridiculous. After covering it up for weeks, now it's all military medics flying in to save the day, patriotic doctors sacrificing their holidays to serve the Chinese people, industrious construction workers building hospitals overnight, fucking epic background music and drone footage and crowds applauding. I swear, nothing is going to take this shitty government down. Even when they fail they make it seem like they're great heroes.
Meanwhile, the comments on western media are predictably trash. Racist nonsense about "China eats bats" and (echoing the local social media) classist piling-on about uneducated peasants spreading disease.
Here's the deal. The vast majority of urban Chinese do not eat game. And those that do are not peasants, because eating exotic animals is much more expensive than eating chickens or pigs. It is something wealthy people do to show off.
Of course, the wealthy aren't going to be the ones punished when the government inevitably cracks down on wet markets. Hunters and butchers and farmers will have to bear the brunt of increased regulations while bigwigs out to impress will continue to serve up black market snake or alligator or whatever.
The real problem is people keeping animals in close proximity, period, but good luck getting anyone to change that habit.
Anyway, i am grumpy and cynical, but i do hope that this doesn't turn into another SARS.