“Save us!” Translation of an article blocked in China about eating problems in closed Shanghai

Shanghai residents in front of an empty supermarket shelf. Photo: The New York Times

Since late March, Shanghai has been experiencing its worst outbreak of Covid-19 infections. Impact peak “Omicron” strain and the lockdown across the city has become a test not of the resilience of the health care system, but of humanity. News came from Shanghai about the separation of sick children from their parents and the killing of pet owners with a coronavirus. The most acute situation has been created by the provision of food to the inhabitants.

Many residents have been sitting in their homes for almost a month now. Only a few platforms are officially operating for product delivery and clearly can not meet the needs of a metropolis of 25 million. For many, group wholesale markets have become a way out, but they are also critical. Many meager free diets are not regularly served. Bloggers and ordinary people alike began urging their compatriots to pay attention to the food problem in Shanghai, but authorities began removing posts from the Internet. Even the material on deleting such notes is disappearing from the public sector. EKD presents a translation of a blogger’s article by Stormzhang about the half-starved life in Shanghai. It came out on April 8, garnered millions of views and was blocked the same day:

“My name is Stormzhang and I’m a Weibo blogger from Shanghai Pudong. For the 22nd day I have been quarantined in my residential complex. In this article, I want to tell readers how Shanghai survives during the current Covid-19 epidemic and ask for your help.

An article by blogger Stormzhang entitled “Save!” on his WeChat profile. ECD screenshot

To date, the situation with the coronavirus in Shanghai is as follows: 824 local cases of infection have been identified, another 20,398 cases have been classified as asymptomatic. The total number of people infected has exceeded 100,000, a higher number than was recorded in Wuhan at the dawn of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the streets of Shanghai lockdown. Photo: nownews.com

I have neither the power nor the disposition to investigate the causes of the current epidemic in Shanghai or to identify responsibilities. The only thing I would like to talk about is the basic living conditions in the lockdown of Shanghai. This is a problem that we can not ignore.

I think you have come across repeated shots from Shanghai people fighting for vegetables in the shops. Some have undertaken to cultivate them themselves. To many, this may seem like a hilarious sketch of a quarantined city, but people just do not realize the seriousness of the situation.

My observations, the observations of friends and the information gathered on the Internet paint a different reality. On the net you can see a significant number of posts asking for help, the content of which usually ends up on the material side of life.

In response, they can answer me: did they not send food and other humanitarian supplies from all over the country to Shanghai? Yes, humanitarian aid was indeed sent from all over the country to Shanghai. For the support of the people of Shanghai and the efforts to raise financial aid, it is worth thanking the local government and the authorities in other areas.

Distribution of food packaging to residents of Shanghai microdistrict. Photo: eastday.com

Despite enormous efforts, food aid is not enough. During the 22 days of isolation at home, I received only three food baskets from the housing committee of our housing complex. Such a set of products is enough for only two days – this is a drop in the ocean.

Some readers in this case may point to another phenomenon. In some parts of Shanghai, apartment complex management provides good food to residents who are locked in apartments.

Yes this is true. Due to the difference in the level of management capacity of the household committees, the quality of the food supply may also differ. At the same time, in some areas, residents receive a limited amount of food on hand. Other people sit empty-handed throughout the lockdown.

Vegetable distribution point for Shanghai residents. Photo: jiemian.com

Most Shanghai residents go out on their own: they shop together and compete with other citizens. They are trying to buy food on the Dingdong (叮咚), Hema (. 马) and Meituan (美 εφαρμο) apps. The key question now is how to “get” food for yourself. In conditions where it is impossible to get a parcel from another province and the convenience stores are closed, Shanghai residents can only fight for leftovers in online shopping. Hoping for luck, train the speed of pressing the application buttons. If you can catch a cabbage head, then enjoy the success until the evening.

It is difficult for you to imagine such a day full of fatigue and stress: at 6 in the morning you flood into Dingdong, at 8:30 you try to grab the last one in Meituan and then for half a day in vain you look for an opportunity to buy at least one carrot.

In common markets for a residential complex, residents can only rely on their own relationships with people outside of it. During the lockdown period, collective bargaining helped to solve the food problem effectively, but it became increasingly difficult to conduct. Household committees in many areas now fear that the virus could enter the common market with the goods and block this supply channel.

The main headache of citizens during the lockdown is the inability to meet the basic vital need for food. Every day of the quarantine life of the people of Shanghai has turned into an endless search for new options to grab the groceries. A significant number of my neighbors live from day to day with a porridge and instant noodles.

Food delivery at the entrance of one of the Shanghai houses. Photo: cna.com.tw

Some may not believe what I say. If I had not experienced it myself, I would not have asked you the opposite question. Tell me, please, how is it that in 2022 the inhabitants of a world-famous metropolis can not buy groceries and eat normally? I can not believe it myself, but this situation is really unfolding before our eyes.

Young people in this regard are a little easier – they can use different applications. The elderly do not even understand how a smartphone works. The hope that they will miraculously buy groceries online is simply reckless.

It now seems to me that the food supply situation for the people of Shanghai is really catastrophic and can no longer be ignored.

Notices of suspension of product delivery due to quarantine restrictions on Dingdong and Meituan services. Screenshot: weibo.com/zhangqi8

Since we are talking about this, a reasonable question may arise: are not the cases mentioned individual? After all, on the Internet you can see how many people live in the clover during the lockdown period. During a pandemic, indeed, one feels quite well, while others somehow cope.

Let’s imagine the following scenario. Shanghai now has 25 million permanent residents. Even if 99% of them are fully supplied with basic food and 1% will face food shortages, then in total there will be about 250 thousand hungry. What is it, if not disaster, when 250 thousand suffering citizens sit in a huge metropolis without food? In fact, the rate is much higher than theoretical.

If you’re interested, you can search Weibo for #Shanghai epidemic (# 上海 疫情). Only not those records that fall to the overall top (these are usually coronavirus statistics, – approx. ΕΚΔ). Seek help for help from mortals who go unnoticed. Read – the heart will bleed.

The epidemic is very frightening, but more fear and anxiety is caused by the problem of meeting the basic daily needs of the people of Shanghai. Let’s say there is still something to eat today. But in a few days, the residents of the city will face a big headache. One day we did not get food, but will we have food the next? This is far more worrying than new cases of coronavirus infection.

Many city dwellers have not yet reached the stage where there are no supplies left: families can distribute food supplies for several days in advance. At the same time, a significant number of Sagaines faced the issue of physical survival.

A food basket distributed by the housing committee of one of Shanghai’s housing estates. Photo EKD

We all keep track of coronavirus statistics. And it is clear to everyone that the peak of this epidemic has not yet been reached, it will continue for quite some time. But people will notice the problem of Shanghai’s survival being closed only when local families do not have a single loaf of bread at home. Then it will be too late. If a humanitarian catastrophe occurs and people die of starvation in an international metropolis, the world community will ridicule us.

I’m just a hard worker from Shanghai and I see the current problem as serious. In combating the spread of the epidemic, we must not forget to meet the basic needs of the people. I blog on the Weibo platform and I have no other way to influence the situation than to talk. It does not matter if this article is removed or not, I will speak anyway. I will talk about myself and other Shanghai residents, I will ask for help from people all over the world.

Reprints of Stormzhang’s article on WeChat Moments. Screenshot: EKD

Content of comments:
a. I’m worried about the elderly and people close to me who can not buy groceries together. Trying to grab something from the food is purely a lottery.
2. No one can be saved. I would just like to stir up my friends who are constantly asking about the state of our affairs.
3. I do not need much, just eat potatoes once a day. Truth.

The situation has not yet reached a critical stage. I hope that as long as we have time to rectify the situation, our compatriots will pay attention to the difficulties facing the people of Shanghai. I also hope that the note will be disseminated as widely as possible and will be understood by the people and the competent services, in whose power to solve the current problem. I believe that tomorrow any citizen of Shanghai will be able to buy food and eat meat without any problems.

In conclusion, I can say: at the moment of a disaster, let go of your positive (. 能量) and let the SOS signal burst. Thank you”.

Ready Andrei Dagaev

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