Wuhan Diary #29: The 33rd Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 24, 2020

February 24th The 33rd day of the Wuhan City Closure

It’s Monday again. I’ve never liked Mondays because it means I have to go to work. I didn’t think that one day I’d miss it and want to go to work as soon as I can.

Last night I watched the latest episode of Phoenix Television’s Secret Documentary (Lengnuan Rensheng 冷暖人生)entitled Humans of Wuhan [Ren zai Wuhan]. I saw shots of familiar buildings and jam-packed streets that have now become deserted that gave me indescribably desolate feelings.

This episode features several out-of-towners stuck in Wuhan living in shabby motels who are worried about paying their bills. A girl asked when will the city closure end but the journalist had no idea. The girl said she only had enough money for another week or so but nothing more. That was a month ago. I don’t know how that girl is doing now. It is heart-wrenching to think about.

The “Little Party Hirelings” on WeChat social media love to post the phrase “This golden age is whatever you want it to be. ” In reality, prosperity slips away very easily. In the end, we are all just ants.

Coincidentally, I watched twice — once shortly before and again after the city closure began — Phoenix TV’s Secret Documentary episode The Tenth Anniversary of the SARS Epidemic [Note: on Youtube, which is blocked in China, at 20200204 冷暖人生 非典记忆 End note] . I’ve seen many episodes of Secret Documentary this year, never imagining that Wuhan would one day have the starring role. While writing this diary entry, I searched for “Tenth Anniversary of the SARS epidemic” online. I suddenly realized that this episode is no longer available online. The Phoenix five episode-long miniseries Phoenix TV Examines the Tenth Anniversary of the SARS Epidemic was also taken down [Note: on Youtube 非典十年祭 but not available in Mainland China. End note.] . I was a little surprised but when I thought about it a bit, I realized that this could not be unexpected. They don’t want people to know that history repeats itself! But really, but doing this is just kidding themselves.

Maybe in another ten years, a documentary on Wuhan today will be censored and taken off the Internet. I wonder how I will feel when I reread this entry of this “Closed City Diary” ten years from now?

Last night I also saw the report “Combining Chinese Traditional Medicine and Western Medicine Drastically Reduced the Death Rate According to Data Published by the Dr. Zhang Boli Medical Team”. After reading carefully through all the data, I’d say that calling the findings “exciting” is ridiculous.

According to the report, the medical team treated 52 patients in all. Thirty-four were treated by a combination of Western and Traditional Chinese medicine while eighteen were treated using only Western Medicine. As a result, the first group has two cases requiring intensive care (7. 4%) and three deaths (8. 8%) while the second group had six cases requiring intensive care (46. 2%) and seven deaths (39%). Thus, they argue, the combination of Western and Traditional Chinese medicine drastically decreases mortality rate.

My first reaction after seeing this data was to think that after the criteria for diagnosing new corona virus pneumonia had changed once again and that after the change the data and graphics were redone to make them look better. Just like I had done when I collected information for the annual performance report I had written about myself at the end of last year.

Naturally I can’t see for sure that the data is all fake or whether, to make them look better, some technical adjustments were made. Even if the data is entirely correct, are 52 samples enough to tell us something about the topic under discussion? Was the degree of expertise of Western Medicine alone of that team that combined Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine sufficient to cure those patients? Why is a comparison of “combined Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine” versus Western Medicine being made instead of a comparison of Traditional Chinese Medicine versus Western Medicine?

These results look faked to me. They don’t stand up to examination. I have another interesting question. Did those 52 patients know that they were the subjects of an experiment?

This morning when I saw Order #17 that “Wuhan residents now outside Wuhan may enter the city and that residents of other areas now in Wuhan may leave”, my thought was of that girl in “Secret Documentary” and was happy for her. Who could have guessed that four hours later would come Order #18 declaring that Order #17 was invalid. I don’t know whether this case of “an order in the morning being revoked in the afternoon” was really the result of poor coordination among government departments or was to make a brief opening for those who can go to take off. I don’t know. All I know is that I am very disgusted about our situation.

I heard that some gossip from a friend in Wuhan’s Shenglu Community that they had discussed on their community WeChat group. The story as I read it on WeChat goes like this: a community worker recommended a private food vendor to the community’s group purchasing group and arranged for community members to buy from this vendor. The food vendor took advantage of people looking for the advantage of making individual purchases to ask for sky-high prices. The vendor charged different people different prices. Community members discussed this and realized that they were being taken advantage of.

The story ended there on WeChat but there is an interesting bit more that was not written there. A friend told me that after several housewives realized what was going on, they found the community worker and complained about it. They went to the community office and demanded an explanation. The community worker quietly gave them a refund and asked them to keep quiet about it. Who would have known but when those housewives got back home, they talked about the whole thing on WeChat.

What an interesting story! That kind of story could be collected into a book and published as Strange Tales from the Closed City.

Here is another weird story. My WeChat account was frozen early this morning. When I tried to login, I got the message “subject of multiple complaints and show to be in violation”. Do you know what’s so vicious about this phrase? It tells you that you that you have been stabbed in the back by multiple (they emphasize multiple) “friends”. They don’t tell you who complained or which regulation you are supposed to have violated, nor do they mention that you have any opportunity to appeal. The boundaries to my self-expression have been draw in tighter. Even worse, I have planted seeds of doubt and hatred among my hundreds of WeChat friends who read my WeChat postings.

I choose to ignore this “cause”. For me, all that matters is not this “cause”, but what I choose to believe is “the cause”. So I choose to believe I’ve hit on some secret filtering switch that blocks sensitive words in WeChat messages. And that this so-called cause is just a malicious tactic designed to make people to fight one another. I can’t let this message become a thorn in my heart that weakens even further the trust I place in the things of this world. Of course, I will certainly censor myself more carefully from now on.

Image result for 黄文军
Dr. Huang Wenjun photo: The Paper (Shanghai)

Last night, Dr. Huang Wenjun of Xiaojin City Central Hospital’s Department of Respiratory Medicine died in the line of duty.

This morning I saw another news item about how a 28-year-old murder case in Nanjing city was solved. I assumed at first it was the body-dismembering case of Diao Aiqing from Nanjing University. After reading it, I realized that it wasn’t. No matter, the deceased can finally rest in peace now that the perpetrator has been arrested.

What can be done, however, to comfort all these people whose lives have been stolen away by the corona virus?

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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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