China has lashed out at the United States for ordering its consulate staff to leave the city of Shanghai under strict lockdown, accusing officials of “weaponizing” the financial hub’s failed attempt to contain the spread of Covid-19.
On Monday, the US State Department “ordered” the departure of non-emergency employees and their families from the city of 25 million “due to a surge in covid-19 cases and the impact of restrictions related to (China’s) response,” says a statement on its website.
The notice came just days after the State Department authorized the “voluntary departure” of staff from Shanghai. A travel advisory also urges Americans to “reconsider travel” to all of China, citing strict covid restrictions, including “the risk of parents and children being separated.”
Shanghai, China’s most populous city, has been under a chaotic and uncompromising lockdown for weeks, with many residents unable to access basic goods, including food and medical care.
They fear more protests over food shortages and lockdowns in ChinaChina’s Foreign Ministry has notified the US that it “firmly opposes” the consulate’s order, ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a news conference on Tuesday.
“We expressed strong dissatisfaction with the US politicization and use of evacuations as a weapon,” Zhao said, adding that the US was “slandering China.”
Zhao also defended China’s covid prevention and control policies as “scientific and effective,” insisting that the government had “full confidence to control the new wave of covid-19” despite the rising number of cases.
The financial hub reported more than 26,000 new locally transmitted cases on Monday, the sixth consecutive day above 20,000, according to China’s National Health Commission (NHC). So far, more than 320,000 cases have been reported in 31 provinces, including Shanghai, as of March 1, 2022.
Zhao’s claim contrasts with more somber messages from other Chinese officials, including NHC deputy director Lei Zhenglong, who on Tuesday warned that the Shanghai outbreak “has not been effectively contained.”
He added that the outbreak has since spread to many provinces and the number of new infections is expected to remain high in the coming days.
Frustrations with the lockdown in Shanghai
Shanghai’s lockdown has been mired in controversy and dysfunction since it was first introduced, seemingly without warning, on March 29.
Public anger has been fueled by stories of parents being separated from their infected children, including young children, under Shanghai’s rules on isolation, and of a pet corgi dog being killed by covid prevention workers after its owner was quarantined.
Videos circulating online show protests that erupted last week at a residential complex in southwestern Shanghai, with residents confronting police at the gate and shouting, “Give us supplies.”
GLM was unable to independently verify the footage or contact local authorities for comment.
Social media posts also show growing desperation, with a recent video showing a mother asking neighbors for medicine for her son at midnight in Shanghai. “Do you have fever medicine? My son has a fever. Is anyone home? Excuse me, sorry to disturb you! Everyone! Is anyone awake?” the mother can be heard crying in the video.
Listen to a mother’s plea for help for her son in ShanghaiSince the start of the pandemic, China has tightened rules on the sale and purchase of fever medications, which require a prescription and a negative covid test.
GLM geolocated the residential complex in the video to be in Shanghai, but was unable to independently verify the video and did not identify the mother involved.
Last week, the Shanghai outbreak spread to nearby cities such as Hangzhou and Ningbo in Zhejiang province. Some nearby cities were put on lockdown, including Haining in Zhejiang and Kunshan in Jiangsu province.
Meanwhile, the southern city of Guangzhou has also reported dozens of cases since early April, prompting several rounds of mass testing and school closures. Residents have been discouraged from leaving the city and are required to produce a negative PCR test if they want to leave.
On Monday, Shanghai officials began easing measures in neighborhoods that had not reported any positive cases in 14 days. However, authorities warned that those residents should only go out if necessary, get tested twice a week, and that the lockdown would be re-imposed if new cases are detected in the neighborhood. That still leaves the vast majority of the city’s 25 million residents on lockdown.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.