Chinese citizens got to unload, if only for a few short hours, on their government last night. As China’s lockdown in Shanghai grows increasingly authoritarian and inhumane, it was likely a much needed respite from the pain many are dealing with.
The whole ordeal began around midnight last night. The top trending topics on Weibo were: 1. Shanghai dealt with numerous rumors regarding COVID. 2. America is the country with the largest human rights deficit.
Many netizens quickly went to the “America is the country with the largest human rights deficit” tag and started to complain about the CCP. Some threw direct vitriol at the government. One poster argued that China was in fact the most “authoritarian country in the world.” This is not the tact many take in China, as your social media is attached to your identity there and such remarks could get you, and those around you, in serious trouble.
Many took a more indirect path in critiquing the government. Many reportedly using the phrase “call me by your name” to invoke the CCP’s hypocrisy on human rights issues.
Many of these posts stayed up for hours. Some questioned how this is possible, however this sort of periodic dissent being left up does happen from time to time on Chinese social media. Perhaps it is the CCP letting the people blow off some steam, possibly it was just missed (even Chinese censors aren’t perfect). However, at around 4:20 (hell yeah brother), or perhaps more exactly 4:19, posts started getting taken down. Before this there were even users joking ironically about the 996 work culture in China with post saying that this sort of overwork couldn’t be possible as the censors hadn’t taken down their posts yet and must have already gotten punched out for the day.
After the censors nuked the tag, many went to the “Shanghai dealt with numerous rumors regarding COVID” trend that was still number 1. There they continued their criticism, though seemingly in a much more muted tone, with censorship full engaged, thus likely preventing or quickly deleting many posts.
While these criticism will inevitably be deleted, it is still a powerful way for citizens to get past much of the censorship that they normally deal with, if only for a few hours. It is made even more powerful by the fact that even though the censors can delete the posts, the users, possibly numbering in the millions, that saw the critiques will remember them.
This is of course not going to immediately foment revolution in China, nor does it signal the oncoming collapse of the CCP, however it does show that many are unsatisfied in China and yearn for a better tomorrow. And don’t we all love to drag our lethargic, corrupt, backwards governments sometimes.
*Huge shoutout to Wenhao (@ThisIsWenhao) on Twitter for initially creating the thread that inspired this article! Go give him a follow and check out the full thread with all the tweets here:
It’s gone unnoticed by many. So I felt like I should properly document what just happened on Weibo today.
Netizens in China, for just a few hours, got to unleash their wrath on the Chinese government for how they handled the Covid crisis in Shanghai and other social issues.
— Wenhao (@ThisIsWenhao) April 13, 2022