Chinese netizens rallied to outwit government censors over a video documenting weeks of lockdown in Shanghai, flooding social media feeds as frustration continued to mount over strict COVID zero rules.
The six-minute video titled ‘The Sound of April’ was released on Friday and was quickly censored as it went viral. Chinese Wechat users then downloaded the movie from different accounts and in various forms, including reverse and mirrored versions until late at night, as the newly uploaded clips were also deleted.
The film, set in a slow-motion image of black-and-white aerial shots of the city, spliced into sound clips of government press briefings, recordings of voice calls asking for medical help and transparency of information, residents hungry and frustrated chanting in unison for government rations, and talks between neighbors and ordinary people helping each other.
“Get well soon, Shanghai,” he said at the end, ending with text that said it was shot and edited by someone named Cary.
Social media users also circulated a clip of the song “Do You Hear the People Sing?” of the musical Les Miserables, which was first censored during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019 and briefly resurfaced in the disarray following the initial outbreak in Wuhan. Other videos included Foreign Ministry spokespersons, quotes from Mao Zedong, excerpts from Chinese revolutionary films and quotes from the Civil Code – all about a citizen’s right to speak out.
“If anyone asked me why I keep posting these videos, I would tell them it’s because they keep censoring them,” one Wechat user said in a post.
Shanghai reported an increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths on Friday, after five consecutive days of declines. The city is entering its fourth week of strict confinement, when many people have been confined to their apartments for even longer.
Residents’ anger grew over lack of access to food or medical care and substandard government rations, and there were clashes with police over the opening of treatment centers. isolation near them.
On Friday, the city government said it would take nine actions to meet the goal of “no community spread,” a step the city has eluded despite weeks of lockdown. He largely reiterated the existing measures in place with a vow to strictly enforce the rules, disappointing those who expected the restrictions to be gradually eased.
Some users also compared the outpouring of support for “The Sound of April” to the night Li Wenliang, the Wuhan-based doctor who warned of a SARS-like illness, died two years ago. The public became furious after the death of Li, an ophthalmologist reprimanded by local police for spreading rumors after issuing early warnings about the virus. Authorities later honored his death in a bid to dampen public outrage.