New Year’s Eve in China has prompted many to voice their opinions online, some critical of the strict Covid-zero policy the country has maintained for nearly three years.
This month, China suspended frequent mass testing and quarantines and ended lockdowns, hallmarks of a policy aimed at eradicating all outbreaks.
The sudden shift in coexistence with the virus has sparked a wave of infections across the country, reduced economic activity and sparked international concern, prompting the UK and France to impose restrictions on travelers from China.
Thousands of users on Weibo, similar to China’s Twitter, on Saturday criticized the removal of a video posted by local website NetEase collecting real-life stories from 2022 that sparked public interest.
Many of the stories in the video, which were no longer available as of Saturday, highlight the difficulties faced by citizens as a result of the strict zero covid policy.
Weibo and NetEase did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A Weibo hashtag associated with the video drew nearly four million comments before disappearing from the platform on Saturday afternoon. And social media users turned to new hashtags to keep the comments alive.
The disappearance of videos and hashtags suggests that the Chinese government is still treating the conversation about how to deal with the pandemic as a politically sensitive topic.
Many Weibo users complained that the wave of infections had ruined the New Year’s celebration atmosphere.
Others hoped the New Year would return China to its pre-pandemic life.
In the first indication of a shift in Covid policy at the Chinese manufacturing giant, data on Saturday showed factory activity fell for a third straight month in December and at the fastest pace in nearly three years.
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