BEIJING: Images of maskless fans enjoying the World Cup in crowded stadiums in Qatar, or bars and streets abroad, have underlined to many frustrated Chinese the difference between their country’s heavy COVID-19 restrictions country and a world that has abandoned masks and lockdowns.
Social media comments from residents of the soccer-mad nation demonstrate a growing sense of isolation among the population, as well as weariness and anger over China’s zero-COVID path to lockdown, frequent testing and closed borders.
In an example from the early hours of Thursday (November 24), a video of hundreds of Japanese fans going wild at Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing after Japan’s unexpected 2-1 win over Germany has gone viral on China’s Weibo Twitter.
“Is it the same world as ours? asked a Weibo user from Sichuan province in a comment that was liked thousands of times.
“Have they done a COVID-19 test? another wrote, mocking China’s testing requirements which in some places are now daily amid a resurgence of cases. “Why don’t they wear masks?”
Comments like these have flooded Chinese social media since the start of the World Cup on Sunday night, a sign that some Chinese feel they have found a safe space to speak out on the country’s COVID policies. -19.
China’s “zero dynamic” stance, a signature policy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, is politically sensitive, and direct online criticism is often blocked on the country’s heavily censored internet and can even lead to arrests.
“It’s been three years, aren’t the cases of COVID-19 resolved yet?” wrote a user in Guangdong province.
An open letter to China’s National Health Commission questioned whether the country was “on the same planet” as Qatar and went viral on Tuesday before being deleted.
“My biggest takeaway from watching the World Cup: no one wears a mask and no one is afraid of the pandemic!” wrote a Weibo user named Wang. “How long will the politicians keep us locked up? Are we not of the same species as those of the rest of the world? Are we closing the whole country to the world now? »
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