Wuhan Diary #26: The 30th Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 21, 2020

Today is February 21, two days since the end of the “tightening up of the city closure”, a process that lasted three days. According to media reports, February 19 was the last day of the “tightening up of the city closure”. Considering that the leadership and grassroots cadres had had a tough time, working day and night, so I waited another two days, and finally I felt that today I could say, “Thank you to the Party and the State for your faith in the health of my family members. Since the city closure, nobody and no organization in any shape, way or form has sought to find out how my family is doing. I also deeply thank myself who has worked so hard to rescue myself, to work hard to protect myself. Currently, my family has no sign of infection and has stored a sufficient quantity of supplies and so we haven’t troubled the Party and State at all.”

The day before yesterday, the 19th, it was said that the newly arrived Party Secretary Wang Zhonglin mingled with the people incognito. I don’t understand why wherever he goes on an “incognito visit” he goes with a large entourage and take so many pictures. But since the leader is sparing no effort and working hard, I think I should welcome this. The day of the Secretary’s incognito visit, all the small supermarkets in the community were closed for the entire day. I had thought it was because of the “strictest community closure in history” but they opened again yesterday and explained that they had closed because leaders were making an “incognito visit”.

From the start of the strict closures of the communities I saw, on the WeChat groups of my friends and in the media, pet owners starting to ask for help.

At the start of the city closure, many pet owners who had gone home to the countryside,

had, as usual, left behind at home enough food and water for their pets to have while they were away. However, when the city closed unexpectedly, the owners were caught in their hometowns and the pets at home. I remember writing about this in the first few days of my diaries. Fortunately at the time I saw many volunteers and groups spontaneously coming forward to offer their help. According to the information I have seen online, as of February 15th, 64 volunteers and employees of the Wuhan Society for the Protection of Animals had provided uncompensated assistance in more than 1400 cases in seventeen days.

Even so, I still kept seeing reports of volunteers arriving only to find that pet stuck at home had died. Now that an stricter closure which has isolated communities from one another has been implemented,

I am afraid that these little guys staying in the epidemic area face an even more desperate situation.

This is not something that should be ignored. Even looking at it apart from the “human” angle, Wuhan now is gradually getting warmer. I the little animals starve to death at home, the decomposition of their bodies will bring bacteria and insects. That will not be good for a residential environment that has already gotten very bad.

I believe that the simplest solution to this problem is for the communities to assume responsibility for providing assistance. I know very well, however, judging from the present situation, that that would be completely impossible.

Today I ate the last Godiva chocolate in our home. Ever since the city closure, we haven’t bought any junk food. What we had was what remained from before. These chocolates we got at the end of last year from a good friend who had just come back from the United States. They knew that we loved that brand of chocolate. I was only too pleased not to tell her that we can buy it in Wuhan as well. There have been all kinds of shortages since the city closure. Express deliveries have stopped. The remaining bar of chocolate was the last straw I could clutch at. Unfortunately I had told myself that I could only eat one square of the chocolate bar each day. Today I ate the last square.

My good friend returned to Wuhan at the end of December and then went to Beijing in early January and then in mid-January returned to the United States. Shortly thereafter came the large-scale outbreak of the new coronavirus in Wuhan. Since it was 14 days from the day she had left Wuhan she was to leave China, she left on the originally planned date and then self-quarantined herself upon arrival for 14 days. During that time, she criticized some other people, saying that many who had returned to the United States from China, including some returning from Wuhan had been running all over the place. Some had invited her to their gatherings. She would say to me “Why don’t they self-quarantine at home? How could they be so reckless?”

Several days later, when I often saw people online calling out foreigners for discriminating against Chinese people, discriminating against Wuhan people, I always thought back to what my friend had said. Chinese people always like to complain loudly about being discriminated against. Sometimes when they aren’t being discriminated against they like to make things out as if people were discriminating against them. Why don’t they ever stop to think that they themselves, or people in their group, have done some things that should be discriminated against. Or to put things another way, because some foreigners “look down on you” as an individual, doesn’t necessarily mean that an entire group is “being discriminated against”.

I don’t know if the fact that people so much like to see themselves as “victims of discrimination” is a sign of nationalism or not. However I really do think that nationalists are a sad group. The only thing they can be proud of is that the genes they were born with determines everything. They can’t claim any values that they can be proud of as individuals before the whole wide world. If a Chinese person is unfortunately a nationalist as well that is even sadder. The result is a strange creature who, even if he is able to physically able to travel outside of China, still clings to an extreme Chinese nationalism. Nationalism is such a big illusion!

Twenty-nine-year-old Dr Peng Yinhua died in the line of duty of new coronavirus pneumonia on February 20th. Photo via Baidu.

Yesterday evening, Dr. Peng Yinhua of Wuhan’s Jiangxia District First People’s Hospital and Union Jiangnan Hospital Respiratory and Critical Care Department died in the line of duty after treatment for an infection by the new coronavirus failed. His wedding date, originally the eighth day of the Lunar New Year, had been put off because of the epidemic. Now it has been put off forever. I just can’t imagine the heart-rending sorrow of his fiancee.

People following the news from Mainland China will not be unfamiliar with the name “Lin Shengbin”. In 2017, because their housekeeper had stupidly and maliciously set fire to their home. Lin’s wife and his three daughters all perished.

Hangzhou newspaper, examining Chinese Red Cross records, found that Lin Shangbin contributed 5000 face masks worth 90,000 RMB (USD 15,000) to Wuhan.

This past few years Mr. Lin has been doing considerable charitable work. During this epidemic he quietly donated nearly 100,000 RMB worth of supplies. Hangzhou media discovered his name on a list of contributors and so it made the news. Today I was a WeChat posting he made a week ago on February 14, Valentine’s Day.

He wrote:

The virus has taken many lives and left behind many heart-broken family members. We will have to be strong to get through this. I don’t dare give up hope. I try to find new ways to motivate myself, even if I have to make light of difficulties, we do need to somehow find a way to laugh as we make our way through all this.

Spring has come. The willows are blooming by West Lake and peach blossoms cover all the mountains and the plains. The land is warming in the sunshine. All this beauty means that their lives are beginning once again. They have never left us for they are always with us.”

This passage, both tender and sad, yet contains both hope and strength. Ever word and phrase recounts the story of Mr. Lin himself. I haven’t been following Mr. Lin’s WeChat microblog because I fear that if I were to see his name come up unexpectedly, it would awaken in me all the sadness that I associate with his name. Sometimes I do however make a special visit to his webpage to look at what he has written. He really is a very good and warm human being. A man like him shouldn’t have to suffer what has happened to him in this world.

If after death there is no heaven and no hell, then that would be very unfair indeed to Mr. Lin and his family, to Dr. Peng, and to both the many who have died and the many who have not died this winter.

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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.
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