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Remembering Shanghai

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Aim2D: real time, 24/7 #ChinaBusinessMarketing, Tech and Social Media News Portal of The Bicaverse based in sunny Shunyi, North east Beijing. Tuesdays we look at business, marketing, tech or social news in and around China. Friday is image gallery where we examine a place, topic or subject giving you greater insight, background to life in China, and of course, your Chinese consumer. If hard, practical, realistic China consumer marketing support is what you need, do drop into our sister site: Unegager. Finally, in a sign of the times, we can assure you that our content is 100% loving created and hand crafted by a fellow human. No AI chatter bots here.

Today Friday, June 24th our video looks back over Shanghai’s difficult months whilst our image gallery takes a look at “Big Whites” in Beijing.

Today, as we hinted above we share a Sixth Tone Video looking at life in Shanghai after the barriers came down. It “records” some of the feelings of people as they ventured out of their “Living Neighbourhoods”, for some, the first time in 60 days.

Please note, language is Chinese, English subtitles, sound is on by default, it is much better viewed in full screen mode.

Secondly we share a link to a Picture Gallery that captures a reporters life when her Beijing residential compound was locked down. Big whites, as you may guess, refers to those guys and gals dressed in padded health protection (HAZMAT) suits.
Once, synonymous with Wuhan, now, sadly, a familiar site for most people in China these troublesome days. Warm at the best of times, under Beijing’s near 40+* temperatures – hot.

The perspiration on their faces is clear to see despite the hood, mask and visor. Sometimes condensation formed on the visor inside. On one particularly brutally hot day, The Bic observed one woman with two young daughters carrying several bottles of water which they handed out to the “Big Whites” on crowd control.
Clearly impractical under the conditions, but as they say, it is the thought that counts.

It was this gesture, juxtapositioned against images we have all seen in overseas media of crowds in US, UK, EU etall turning on and assaulting Covid workers and retail / hospitality staff who asked for QR code that stuck in his mind.

OK, for sure, this photo gallery and article is heavy on propaganda. The choice of vocabulary is not that which one would find in a regular news item. It is carefully crafted to appeal from an emotional perspective. Some instances mentioned, smack of “playing to the gallery.” “Staged” might be unkind however, as it does seem Asian society tends to be more homogeneous and pull together in times of adversity.

But having said that, much of what we have read from western media is equally biased in its approach. Created to stir up anti Chinese feeling and hatred. To distract from other issues closer to home.
So is the headline below really so surprising?

Latest Reuters Institute survey shows further decline in news trust


Again, agreed, the local Beijing report we link to presents a cosy, warm fuzzy feeling. She does tend to “gloss over” some of the more harrowing side effects, and for certain sure, there were some, for whom the Covid lock down was a seemingly never ending living nightmare. A friend in Beijing’s Fengtai District went through several “rolling” lockdowns. Another in Changping spent 20 days in her gated village. And it was an especially hard 60 days for some souls in Shanghai.

Finally, yes, The Bic is based in a small corner of Beijing so can not comment on what went down in other places. Beijing is a HUGE Metropolis, and he is therefore dependent on feedback from friends and colleagues in the infected zones. But, from his perspective, the overall “feel” of this article is closer to how he, personally, experienced Covid in Beijing, and light years away from what he read in western media.

Shanghai’s Coming out

Towards the end of March, Covid began showing up in Shanghai. At that time, everyone was optimistic. Buoyant. Bullish. In retrospect, cocky. If any city in China can beat Covid it was China’s Queen City. Several days later the unthinkable happened. Shanghai began locking down. First contaminated apartment areas. Then districts. Ultimately the entire city.

We, as in China, were told it was just for 5 days. 60 days later, Shanghai blinked back to freedom. For Shanghai, it was as if they went to sleep end of winter, woke up in summer.

There has been a lot written in global media about the circumstances and conditions at the time. There is no denying that there were some serious errors in judgement made and for many, many thousands of people, conditions were extremely harsh.

Even though we are in Beijing, we had friends and clients trapped in Shanghai and some of their stories were harrowing. Having lived here for over 20 years, I am well used to the oft gutter press from mainstream US media. But to me, they sunk to a new low when they began reporting this from a propaganda perspective. All for a few more advertising dollars. One can almost sense the frustration and anger of those who are pressured to fly big aeroplanes into tall buildings. A totally self defeating and counter productive waste of innocents lives from a logical perspective. But then, anger and frustration are not logical emotions. Meanwhile the bewildered population ask; “Why us, why do they hate us so?” Blame your media.

An often used expression is “a perfect storm,” used to mean an accumulation of, by themselves, unimportant events that, by coming together, triggered a disaster. Perhaps in some ways, this can be applied to Shanghai: a general overconfidence, complacency coupled with an administration restructuring all added up to a disaster in waiting. We look at some of these in our articles highlighted below.

Chinese seem to love idioms, perhaps: “Every cloud has a silver lining” is apt here as Covid has exposed shortcomings and weaknesses. Humans are generally a positive, tough species. So like Brits, esp Londoners during the Blitz, Shanghai people have emerged dazed, yet positive and reflective. We will leave you with a few comments that stood out for us as we watched the movie.

Turns out there is a difference between not wanting to go out and not being allowed out.

I found even riding a bike can make you feel happy.

I hadn’t realised how many things I had taken for granted

I miss my cat.

Beijing and Big Whites

As mentioned, a photo gallery of Beijing’s lock down through the (soft) lens of a reporter: ” The most memorable ‘stranger.” The reporters copy is well worth reading.

We will leave you for today with yet another link to Sixth Tone; as a reminder that at the end of most sensational, salacious stories there are human beings. People, not too much unlike you. We have also copied verbatim their editors into:

June. 24, 2022
Every person in Shanghai has their lockdown story, memories tinged with emotion: fear, loneliness, anxiety, hunger, and moments of release. “Memory Project: The Shanghai Lockdown” is an effort to memorialise those experiences unleashed by China’s “zero-COVID” policy, which has permanently scarred the city’s 25 million residents, and others elsewhere.

This project is a record, in those residents’ own words, of the days that turned into weeks and then into months from late March to May, something few imagined in a world city like Shanghai. Here, you’ll read stories about people worried about feeding their families and people stuck at their workplaces, stories of missed funerals and missed marriage registration appointments, and stories of those who tried to remain hopeful in the grimmest of times. For many of us, those experiences are too fresh, too painful to remember as we try to return to normalcy. But we will not forget. — Bibek Bhandari, editor

Please note: the page moves randomly through people’s thoughts as you continue to scroll down. Some are hard to read. Read their record here:
Memory Project: The Shanghai Lockdown

In remembering Shanghai, we also remember others such as Jinan, Guangzhou and of course Wuhan as well as people in cities around the planet.

The Bic.

You may also find our other articles – below – on our China Covid perspective enlightening. We hope it helps you understand your Chinese customers on a different, more personal level.

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