Wuhan: Covid Diary by Fang Fang (Le Monde Diplomacy)

Here’s the package: This makeshift barricade was built to control access to a residential complex in Wuhan on April 11, 2020.


n On January 23, 2020, the Chinese government quarantined Wuhan because of the “coronavirus pneumonia outbreak”. I and the millions of residents of this megapolis in central China found themselves in lockdown. Immediately, fear and panic set in. The shadow of death covered the city. It was news of a hospital on the verge of collapse.

Our lives were suddenly filled with uncertainty. did i get infected? If so, do hospitals have room for us? Will Wuhan be abandoned to its fate? (There were rumors that military chemical and biological warfare units had surrounded the city.) This was a new, unknown virus, ferocious and terrifying. We all believed that catching it was almost certainly a death sentence.

A Shanghai-based magazine contacted me and suggested I should keep a lockdown diary. So, from the third day of quarantine, I started writing online about the epidemic and the lives of Wuhan residents. It was January 25th, Chinese New Year.

I posted an article on Weibo (1): Snippets written when they came to me, like meeting minutes. I saw them as raw materials that I could review later. At first, I had no intention of writing every day. I never imagined the lockdown would last this long. I never imagined that this plague would spread all over the world. I was looking at things very simply. I was there, so I asked people around me to find out what was going on, and I reported the incident as accurately as possible.

I unintentionally wrote 60 posts and only stopped when the epidemic subsided [on 24 March 2020]Two weeks later, Wuhan’s lockdown was officially lifted. It lasted 76 days. Never before in the history of the city has there been such a thing.

People have changed

It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the middle of a long time.I decided to revisit this spring. Wuhan diaryPage after page, I remembered every detail: tension, endless struggle, oppressive atmosphere, turmoil and devastation. I remembered the cries and calls for help, names and faces, love and anger, blood and tears. It was a pleasure to witness all of that on a daily basis. Without these stories, without the details they contain, many things would have been forgotten forever. I never knew it happened when I saw you doing things like that.

An old Chinese proverb says, “Stand by the stream, Master [Confucius] said. [water]Never ending day and night (2), a reference to the inexorable passage of time. Whether we are joyful or sad, whether we feel light or heavy, happy or compassionate, time ignores us. Like water, it will polish your memory until it disappears. Like the wind, carvings in stone wear away.

I keep getting calls from government officials telling me they are barred from interviewing foreign media.My phone is tapped and I am under surveillance…and as soon as I leave the house someone calls to find out where I am claim to be ‘concerned’ for the safety of

So when someone asks me if Wuhan has changed, I reply that everything is the same as before – more or less. take it and go your own way. With or without disaster, what is destined to change will change, and the rest will not change. That’s right, maybe some apartments haven’t been built, some businesses have gone bankrupt, or one or another road has been renovated. But even without the pandemic, these things would have happened anyway.

what a pandemic have It’s the people that have changed. People who live here and are suffering so much. Weeping Online She remembers a woman named Soul. she is a mother During her lockdown, her only daughter contracted the novel coronavirus and died. It was as if the heavens had fallen on her. On her Weibo, she urged authorities to take responsibility and ask them to explain why her daughter died. However, censorship with many prohibitions makes it difficult to hear voices like hers. And I never heard her cry again.

How many crying souls are there in Wuhan? Mothers, children, whole families who lost several members in a matter of days. I believe the pain that 2020 left in the hearts of the surviving members of the affected families will always be there, whether the city changes or not.

Although the virus no longer wreaks death across Wuhan like it did in the early days, precautionary measures are still central to our lives. Today, you have to wear a mask and carry a mobile phone with her green QR code on it. You have to stand in line for a PCR test, sometimes two or three days in a row. Otherwise, the green QR code will turn gray and you will be barred from entering public places. Buses, subways, schools, shopping centers, banks, post offices, and all places that are part of our daily lives are off-limits without a green QR code. You can’t even use the highway without it. Life has never lost us so much.

“Traitor to the Motherland”

The pandemic has changed my destiny too. On April 8, 2020, the day Wuhan was released from quarantine, online pre-sales of translations of my diary began in the United States and Germany. The news in China caused a stir. I was subjected to a barrage of insults and accused of making all sorts of mistakes. A Chinese magazine commissioned my diary, but I was suspected of writing it at the agitation of the United States. Publishing abroad, while not unusual, was described as “abnormally fast”.

All this because I was reporting on my daily life and state of mind during lockdown. He criticized the authorities for hiding the truth and acting slowly. Because he expressed his compassion for those who succumbed to the virus. But most of all, I was constantly asking the authorities to answer for their actions. So I became a woman who “handed the knife” to the anti-Chinese forces in the West, a “traitor”, a “traitor to the motherland”.

For over a year, I have been subjected to violent attacks online. There were insults and lies all over the internet. Some said they were putting together a group to come to Wuhan and kill me. Others called martial artists to beat me. Someone put up insulting posters all over town. Someone else suggested making a humiliating statue of me. And there were countless videos, songs, and cartoons attacking me.

my name has been replaced with an asterisk

I was under total censorship and was unable to reply or defend myself against all this abuse.The media treated my name as taboo. Even today they replace it with an asterisk.

Instead of making rational judgments based on what I wrote, authorities accepted the biased interpretations of hostile Internet users based on excerpts taken out of context and launched a blind campaign of repression against me. have started. The sanctions imposed on me are meaningless. I am forbidden to publish anything in China or intervene for literary or public good.

Not only is the media required to hide my name, scholars are prohibited from studying my work. (3)And if an independent website provided me with a platform, articles would be quickly censored and the site would even be blocked. I keep getting calls to let me know. My phone is being tapped and I’m under surveillance…and as soon as I leave the house someone calls to find out where I am claimed to be “concerned” for the safety of

Last June, I was invited by a friend to go for a drive with him. [the historic town of] Lizhuang, Sichuan. On their way there, they received an urgent call from work and were asked to return that night. And the Lizhuang hotel where I was supposed to stay was told to refuse the room.

Living like that makes me feel helpless. I call this kind of repression “ruthless state violence.” When certain subversive forces in government and society agree and cooperate, all I can do is keep quiet.

Many things will never be the same again. Freedom, openness, the life we ​​wanted is all far away. I see no reason to be optimistic. But I have the courage and strength to calmly face reality. Wuhan: Covid Diary by Fang Fang (Le Monde Diplomacy)

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