China internet censors scramble as lockdown frustration sparks ‘creative’ wave of dissent

Image Credit: John Pasden - Flickr

China’s strict system of censorship is struggling against the onslaught of complaints from Shanghai, as residents find creative ways to get around bans on words, hashtags and even lyrics from the national anthem.

As the weeks-long lockdown in the city of 25 million prompted widespread food shortages, delivery failures and fatal healthcare disruptions, the government has urged residents to harness “positive energy”. Dystopian banners warn people to “watch your own mouth or face punishment” and drones admonish apartment dwellers. But far from inspiring residents to fall in line, the methods have made tensions grow.

 

On WeChat, groups have shared the names and stories of people who died, either with Covid or because the lockdown delayed their access to healthcare. They have criticised local authorities and China’s continued commitment to zero-Covid as the world opens up, shared videos of residents detained, bundled out of their apartments, or treated roughly by pandemic workers.