China did What?

Globally we’re subject to this kind of misinformation

It’s common when things need to be done in a hurry, that things will go wrong. When situations are imposed on us, we can get upset or angry and sometimes these small incidents things turn into larger spectacles that everyone involved regrets afterwards.

One such incident occurred in Guangzhou on Thursday. The city is in the midst of a Covid outbreak, people are on edge, more than 9,000 people tested positive on Friday and 7,000 the day before. Over the last month or so, about 100,000 people have tested positive and been isolated.

Around the world, many people disagree with this policy but the WHO has made it clear that it’s a good policy. We may not like it; we might not accept it willingly or even gracefully but we must comply with it. This doesn’t mean we won’t have problems with it.

Guangzhou is a megacity, there are many millions of people living in a small area and some of those areas are under Covid restrictions. However, the vast majority of citizens can still move around, business is still going on and people are getting on with their lives but because there are so many cases in the city, there are some strict restrictions in some areas. Not the entire city, surgical restrictions which affect the minimum number of people.

With a city of 13 million, or more people, the very few incidents making it onto social media need to be carefully considered. We’re not seeing hundreds or even thousands of people dying, or living with the long-term effects of a disease that even now, three years in, the world still doesn’t quite understand.

Many people will argue that the measures are wrong and they’re entitled to do that but I’d argue that 1 million people dead is a lot more wrong.

An incident occurred on Friday which has captured global attention. Two girls got handcuffed when they approached a Covid checkpoint to pick up some food they had ordered, there were several factors that they, the girls, hadn’t considered.

The area they wanted to go was inside a restricted zone which means they either couldn’t enter, of they did, they couldn’t leave.

One of them wasn’t wearing a mask. In a city that had 9000 new cases the next day and mostly in the same region, this is completely unacceptable

Apparently, according to Dimsum Daily, neither of them had been tested since October 30th, 17 days earlier, again, in a city with 9000 cases who knows if they were carrying Covid out to the community.

The final thing was that they both had yellow codes. Which means they may have been in contact with someone who is sick.

One thing I know about Chinese authorities, and people who’ve never lived in China may argue this but every person I know who lives in China will agree. The authorities, including the police are very patient, they don’t arrest you for nothing, they don’t handcuff you when you’re not aggressive and they don’t film or publicly expose you to “shame you”. Even the BBC will affirm that as they’ve filmed the police often being patient with them doing the wrong thing!

What they usually do is patiently but firmly tell you what you need to do; in this case, report to the authorities, wear masks and get tested. Only when a person becomes aggressive or violent will they respond in kind — this is my experience of every interaction I’ve seen with the police over 18 years of living here.

In this case, these girls weren’t videoed being aggressive or violent, that part was removed.

As often happens, videos of “incidents in China” have the context removed so only the consequences are left and we can assume the worst. We only saw what the police had done to subdue these girls, if we’re going to really know the story, what happened in the 10 minutes leading up to that point? I’m willing to bet there was a nasty scuffle and, police officers in China, as in every other country of the world will respond in kind

Did the girls get beaten as we’ve seen in Europe? No

Did the girls get dragged by the hair as we sometimes see in the US? No

Was minimum force used to subdue two aggressive people, or was maximum force used?

The fact that the girls don’t have a visible mark on them, their clothes are not torn, there’s not a drop of blood to be seen; these all indicate it was a pretty minimal use of force. But one thing is for sure. The police do have video evidence of this and will be examined to ensure it was appropriately dealt with.

If the police overreacted, it will be clear and action will be taken, it always is in China.

In this case, as dim sum daily reports, they were taken to the community office. Told what they needed to do and after the situation calmed down, they apologised, received a minor punishment, probably a warning or perhaps a fine, that hasn’t been made clear, and were released and back on social media.

No one was hurt, no one was charged with any further offences and, for the record, it was not the police or authorities who released the video to social media, the neighbours who witnessed the event did that.

It is those members of the public who should be shamed for invading the privacy of these two girls, who were doing the wrong thing.

Let’s stop judging minor incidents in China by standards which are different to our own. Let’s stop judging Chinese authorities on snippets of videos which are cut from longer stories. Let’s start to question why people only show you the negative side of an event instead of the full picture — it’s because they want you to judge the event in the wrong light.

People complaining that China has “shamed” these girls should really wonder to themselves: who was it who released the videos? IT wasn’t the police or the authorities.

Why did they go viral? Because people like us want to watch it.

And why aren’t we seeing the full picture? Because the people who put it out there want you to only see the negative side.

Only when we answer these questions can we really start seeing what’s going on.

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Jerry Grey

I’m British born Australian living in Guangdong and have an MA in Cross Cultural Change Management. I write mostly positively about my China experiences