Wuhan Diary #16: The Twentieth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 11, 2020

“If you could have viewed a Wuhan friend group on WeChat, you would have seen for yourself yesterday evening that the groups were flooded with postings “I am in the One Percent”. Graphic by 巴丢草 Badiucao 

February 11 Twentieth Day of the Wuhan City Closure

Life seems to have come to a halt yet time continues to slip by.

Today I finally saw our community’s epidemic report on our neighborhood WeChat group. Our community has twenty confirmed cases of coronavirus pneumonia. Most have already been admitted to the hospital for treatment while some others are either in “concentrated quarantine”or in “home quarantine”. Our building has one person in “home quarantine”.

I have been angry with our community authorities about this kind of thing all along: no epidemic situation report, and no feedback on decontamination not to mention their failure to organize group purchases of vegetables. I had hesitated for many days about whether or not I should call the Mayor’s Hot line to complain. Each time I thought I would call, I would think that the economy is not good these days and it is hard to find a job (I usually assume that caring about other people is reciprocated) so in the end I never did call. Then yesterday morning I heard a friend who lives in another community mention that Wuhan already has ten communities that have been “completely wiped up” – that is all the community workers had caught the coronavirus – so I suddenly decided that getting angry with them wouldn’t serve any purpose. Epidemic prevention is something they just aren’t capable of doing. Forcing them to do it during the state of emergency is imposing on them already, so no need to criticize them too harshly.

We are all just marks on the lowest end of the social scale constantly being taken advantage of so beating up on each other doesn’t do any good.

Yesterday and today I saw some news items that made me more uneasy.

The first was that Wuhan City Communist Party Committee Secretary Ma Guoqiang at the press conference on the progress of epidemic prevention and control work said that: “As of February 9th, Wuhan had checked on 3371 villages and communities for a total of 4.21 million households with 10.59 million people. That proportion of households checked comes to 98.6% and the proportion of people checked reached 99%.” If you could have viewed a Wuhan friend group on WeChat, you would have seen for yourself yesterday evening that the groups were flooded with postings “I am in the One Percent”.

Taking myself as an example, I can tell you that our community hasn’t sent anyone to our door since the Wuhan City closure began. Neither have they called us on the telephone, or even had us register our body temperatures on the community chat group. Anyways, we don’t have a clinical thermometer. What criteria did they use to come up with those figures of 98.6% and 99%?

The second piece of news came out yesterday evening from Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital Director Zhang Dingyu: “The new coronavirus pneumonia is a self-limiting epidemic. Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital has already treated over 1500 cases. Most patients have been able to get treatment and be discharged. The people of Wuhan should not get overly frightened.” That piece of good news taken by itself was encouraging but if you were to put it together with the first one, it seems very strange.

The third item was on today’s news at noon. Cong Liang, a member and Secretary-General of the Party Committee of the State Development and Reform Commission announced that “Manufacturing and services essential to the livelihood of the people shall immediately return to work and to production. Workers on important projects shall return to work and resume work as soon as possible. Other enterprises which do not have sufficient conditions to resume operations for the time may remain closed temporarily. Workers in areas where epidemic is serious and workers not urgently needed may return to work after a suitable delay.”

Having lived in Mainland China for many years, I learned early to compare and analyze statements to get at their deeper significance. However the significance of these two items taken together was very simple: the economy can’t stand any more delay so let’s hurry up and get back to work.

When I compare this to the earlier official order that Hubei return to work on February 14, and not having seen any sign of a delay in that, this cannot but make those of us Wuhan people who live in the center of the epidemic area nervous. Will they just use us as chips in a bet on the virus?

I really do want to get back to work. I want my company to do well. I want to have my usual salary and bonuses. I don’t want to gamble with my health though. Its just not worth it.

These past few days there was another bit of news that was much discussed. Rumor has it that when the Jiangsu Province medical team reached Wuhan they lost their baggage and their supplies were stolen. I don’t know how reliable that report is but, considering the administrative capability of the Wuhan government, I have no doubt that chaos ensues from their arrangements and that misunderstandings and dissatisfaction results is certainly to be expected.

The Chinese Communist Party Youth League newspaper, China Youth Daily WeChat account and then later the Xinhua official press agency both urge you not to believe those social media reports about the Jiangsu medical team. Here one such report is stamped “rumor” in red just so you’ll know.

I do feel however that this case is especially worth mulling over.

First of all, wherever you look, whether it is on the local chat groups or among some online fan groups available nationwide, Jiangsu Province people and Hubei Province people often attack each other by “rumor-mongering” and “refuting rumors” as well as saying “wait for an official statement”. Saying this kind of thing seems to have penetrated to the very marrow young people today. I see these phrases online all the time. I have always felt that the phrase “rumor-mongering” should be used with some reserve. The definition of “rumor-mongering” includes intention. A news event occurs, then has a different look at different stages of its transmission. That is normal. Just because in its details there is some difference from the original event, or even becomes something completely different, do we need to conclude that someone with evil intentions set out to do “rumor-mongering”.

A normal society has a wealth of channels for conveying information, and it quickly be amended or corrected along the way to give a fuller picture. Conversely, in an abnormal society, the terms “rumor-mongering” and “wait for official information” are deployed to block voices circulating in other channels of communication. The end result is that only one explanation is correct, only one loudspeaker is turned on, only one voice is allowed to exist. Dr. Li Wenliang has already proven with his life what a terrible thing that is. Moreover, in addition to tightening up the channels of communication, there is the other method to secretly inciting people on the lower rungs of society to attack one another.

Next, I was surprised to find, quite by accident, that in nearly all the WeChat groups there is someone who brings up “we need to prevent separatists from outside Mainland China from setting the tone”. Yes, you can see that message in nearly all the WeChat groups. That kind of stereotyped expression is so overdone and so frequent that is makes me wonder. Is this really 2020?

Moreover, and this is the way some Wuhan people apologize, something that I have wanted to say, and to be polite I really should express my regret, and I do feel so apologetic, even though an apology is not really necessary. There certainly are people coordinating this, the distribution of supplies is not something you grassroots people can take part in, and even the people who are responsible for those things are not the people that you or I have chosen. None of them have apologized and so there is no need for us to apologize on their behalf.

Yesterday another physician died in the line of duty because he was infected coronavirus pneumonia. It was Professor Lin Zhengbin of the Wuhan Tongji Hospital Organ Transplantation Research Institute.

Today the official news reported that Hubei Province Health Commission Party Organization Secretary Zhang Pu and Director Liu Yingzi have been removed from office. Removed from office but not dismissed. This means that they no longer are in their original position but they have not been reduced in rank.

Untold numbers of people have death and heart-breaking sorrow but this is just another case of “getting away with a small slap on the wrist”. I am already numb to this kind of thing. I only have this to say. If all of Wuhan’s medical workers were to go out on strike, I would support them. On the one hand, the Red Cross Society of China can’t ever manage to handle distribution properly. On the other we rely on medical ethics to compel people, proclaiming loudly that “With no thought of compensation, regardless of whether they will live or die”, medical personnel are forced into a desperate struggle. That is a very evil way of doing getting things done.

Chinese text:

2月11日  武汉封城第20天

生活仿佛静止了一般,只有时间倏忽而逝。

今天终于看到我们社区的疫情通报了,在微信的社区群里,我们社区有近20人确诊,大多数已经入院治疗,部分“集中隔离”,部分“居家隔离”,“居家隔离”中有一人就在我们楼栋。

我最近一直很生社区的气:没有疫情通报、没有消杀反馈,更别提组织团购蔬菜这样的事了。犹豫了好几天要不要打市长热线投诉,每次想打电话的时候,总会觉得现在经济不好,人家找个工作不容易(多半我又自作多情了),总之最终还是没有打。然而就在昨晚,听到在另外一个社区工作的朋友聊起,武汉现在已经有几个社区“全军覆没”了——社区工作人员全部感染——忽然又觉得怨他们着实没什么用,防疫原本就是他们能力之外的事情,非常时期让他们顶上已是强人所难,还是不要太严苛了。

都是底层韭菜,何必互殴呢。

昨天到今天有几个新闻,让我们越来越不安起来。

一个是昨晚武汉市市委书记马国强在通报疫情防控进展的新闻发布会上称“截止到2月9日,武汉一共排查了3371个社区村,按户数算排查了421万户1059万人,户数排查的百分比达到98.6%,人数排查百分比达到99%。”如果你能看到武汉人的朋友圈,可以在昨晚见证刷屏般的“我是1%”;就拿我自己来说,我们社区从封城至今未曾上门、未曾打过电话、未曾在社区群里进行体温登记,何况我家里根本就没有体温计。这个98.6%和99%到底是按什么标准编出来的呢?

第二则也是昨晚发布的,来源于金银潭医院院长张定宇“新冠肺炎是自限性疾病,金银潭医院收治患者累计超过1500余例,绝大部分患者经治疗均可顺利出院,市民不必过分恐慌”,这条新闻单独看确实是鼓舞人心的好消息,但是结合第一条新闻的时间点就非常微妙了。

第三条,是今天中午发布的消息,国家发改委党组成员、秘书长丛亮“重要国计民生领域要立即复工复产,重大项目要及时返岗、尽早开工,其他不具备条件的企业可暂不开工,疫情高发地区和非紧迫岗位可适当延期返程”。

在大陆这么多年,我早就学会了组合揣摩文字下的深层含义,何况这几条新闻连在一起意思非常简单:经济耗不下去了,尽快开工复工。

再加上早前官方要求的湖北复工时间2月14日,至今也没有任何延迟的迹象,这不得不让我们这些疫区中心的武汉人担心:会不会拿我们当作筹码,跟病毒做这一场赌博。

其实我现在挺想上班的,我希望公司业绩好,希望自己的工资正常、奖金正常,可是我不愿意拿我自己的健康去做赌注,不值得。

这两天还有一个消息,在本地引起了比较多的争论,就是传言江苏医疗队到武汉后行李丢失、物资被抢。其实这条消息的来龙去脉我没有太关注,因为按照武汉市政府的处置能力来说,安置混乱几乎不必怀疑,由此产生误会和不满的情绪也再正常不过。

但是,我仍然觉得这是一段特别值得仔细咀嚼的公案。

首先,不光是在本地群,我加的几个全国范围的粉丝群里,江苏人和湖北人都在用“造谣”“辟谣”互相攻击,再加上“等官宣”,这些仿佛已经是深入这些年轻人骨髓中的基本话术了。但我一向认为“造谣”这种措辞应该慎用,“造谣”有故意为之的含义,信息在发生、传播的不同阶段会有不同面貌,这是再正常不过的事情,并不能因为有一些细节与最初出现的时候不同、甚至完全不一样,就认定是别有居心的“造谣”,正常社会中信源渠道丰富,能很快进行补充和修正,让信息呈现全貌。反之,在不正常的社会,会用“造谣”“等官宣”堵上其他信息渠道的声音,最后的结果就是:只有一个解释行得通、只有一个喇叭能发声、只有一种声音能存在。而李文亮医生已经用生命证明了这是一件多么可怕的事情。何况,除了收紧发声渠道,也是在暗戳戳地挑唆底层互殴啊。

其次,我很意外的发现,几乎每个微信群里都有人提到“提防境外分裂势力带节奏”,是的,几乎每个微信群都能看到,这套话术的使用实在太过熟练和频繁,以至于我都有些恍惚:这真的是在2020年吗?

还有,就是一些武汉人的道歉,我特别想说,礼貌上确实应该表示歉意,但真要觉得多么歉疚,却也大可不必。毕竟人员协调、物资分配并不是你我草民可以参与的事项,就连负责这些事项的人都不是你我选出来的,他们都没有道歉,我们就不必主动代为受过了。

昨天又有一位医生,来自武汉同济医院器官移植研究所的林正斌教授,因为感染新型肺炎殉职。

而今天上午的官方新闻称湖北省卫健委党组书记张晋、主任刘英姿被免职。免职,而非撤职,意味着不再担任原职务,而职级没有降低。

无数人的生离死别肝肠寸断,不过又是个“自罚三杯”。

对此我已经麻木了。我只想说,如果武汉的医护人员现在罢工,我是支持的。

一边红十字会物资始终分发不到位,另一边靠道德绑架、宣扬“不计报酬无论生死”,逼着医生护士们上阵肉搏,这种做法实在太恶毒了。

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated,with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
This entry was posted in Economy 经济, Health 健康, Politics 政治, Society 社会 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wuhan Diary #16: The Twentieth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 11, 2020

  1. Rick Waters says:

    Amazing series, thank you for translating these.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.