In China, the coronavirus epidemic is under control

“For Halloween night I went to a nightclub until three in the morning and I couldn’t find a taxi because there were so many people in the streets”laughs Shu Kin, 40, director of a private school in Hangzhou, the prosperous capital of Zhejiang province.

→ INVESTIGATION. In Wuhan, “it’s as if the virus has disappeared”

“No mask, no social distancing, no temperature control… Life is back to normal here”, assures this lover of France over the phone, saddened to see the catastrophic figures in Europe.

China has the virus under control

We must face the facts: China, cradle of the Wuhan coronavirus which has spread around the world (1.2 million deaths) seems to have largely succeeded in controlling the epidemic on its territory. “The Chinese are no longer afraid and I am proud of the central government for the management of this crisis”, testifies on the Chinese messaging WeChat a young tourist guide of the city of Guilin in the province of Guangxi in the South. The figures speak for themselves: 86,000 cases and “only” 4,634 deaths in China for a population of 1.35 billion people.

Greater awareness of the danger of coronavirus

“In Chengdu, we go out on weekends, we visit historical sites, we fish with the line, we no longer wear a mask in the streets. I am no longer afraid of the virus ”said Ma Yong, a 57-year-old scholar from Sichuan province. “It’s the same in Chongqing, adds this young grandmother who has traveled a lot in the world. And in Shanghai, where I was last week, the mask is no longer even compulsory in stores and restaurants. “ Before concluding : “The Chinese were very wise and obeyed official regulations aimed at managing the virus, aware very early on of the dangerousness of a coronavirus. “

Controls remain a little stricter in Beijing

In this general panorama, the political capital Beijing is a bit of an exception. “Here, where the heart of power lives, everything is stricter, you understand”, testifies Li Lu, former member of the Communist Party, in a conversation on his encrypted messaging. “Although I don’t trust this dictatorial regime, I have to admit that it has done a great job in dealing with the virus. “ Taking temperatures, wearing a mask outdoors or checking the health QR code has eased today, even though the virus is still hovering.

Last week, a single asymptomatic case of a worker in Kashgar, Xinjiang province, triggered a veritable “extermination operation”. A vast campaign to screen the 4.75 million inhabitants of the city was launched and completed in four days. Two weeks earlier, a few cases spotted in a hospital in Qingdao city in Shandong province had caused the city’s 11 million residents to be tested in five days. As a reminder last May more than 9 million inhabitants of Wuhan had been tested in ten days.

A real social grid

“Our system is relentless”, recognizes Shu Kin, because the social grid is total in China. Cities, districts, neighborhoods, residences have official surveillance committees, arm bands, which control the population, temperature, health RQs, entrances and exits. With the police still mobilized. “The tests, which no one can escape, are compulsory and are carried out in stadiums, parks or car parks, he continues. Everything is recorded, positive cases are sent to hospital and contact cases are quarantined under surveillance. “

This vigilance also requires enormous logistics, material, manpower and financial means that China possesses. Tests in Wuhan last May cost 130 million euros. Thanks to the measures taken, the virus is under control… but it has not disappeared. In Wuhan, as winter approaches, “People have started to put on masks”, testifies there a European diplomat. “Mistrust is back, it’s the end of carelessness. “ Fatalist and philosopher Li Lu in Beijing expects further restrictions at any time and deplores the authoritarian approach in China: “Here, life is more important than freedom. “



Since the appearance of the virus in Wuhan at the end of 2019, China has been characterized by the severity of its measures. From January 22, the Chinese government placed three cities in Hubei province under quarantine in order to contain its distribution. Thanks to the images and videos circulating, Europeans are discovering the reality of confinement with a mixture of surprise and pity, perhaps tinged with cynicism.

The Beijing regime has long been listed among the most liberticidal. Since that date, the word, used to designate a law or measure “killing” freedoms, has spread to the four corners of the planet. The city of Melbourne, Australia, until then known by globetrotters as one of the most enjoyable cities, has experienced longer anti-Covid restrictions than in China. In France too, the debate is lively: what attacks on our freedoms must we accept in order to save lives?


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