Message from Beijing

Michael Auslin reviews the quandaries of Chinese behavior concealing the facts surrounding the Wuhan virus in the RealClearPolitics column “Has the U.S.-China Cold War Now Begun?” The text includes a valuable collection of links. Today a reader provides this eyewitness testimony via email from Beijing:

Skepticism of China remains healthy. Yesterday there was an 8-plus hour escalating protest by Hubei citizens AND Hubei police against neighboring Jiangxi province police. Why? Because officially the Wuhan quarantine is over, but the Jiangxi police don’t believe it should be and still won’t allow Hubei citizens to cross the bridge to their province.

The escalations included Jiangxi police attacking Hubei police followed by Hubei police and citizens charging the Jiangxi riot line, stealing equipment, flipping a large police van (about the size of a small school bus) and dragging Jiangxi Communist Party officials out of another van they were attempting to flee in after the riot lines were over run and…no idea what happened to them. You can find video on Twitter. Can’t find it in China, of course. [Ed.: The tweeted video below is the best I could do.]

My employer gave a notice at the start of the weekend that things in Beijing may be easing up internally, but that anyone wanting to leave Beijing would have to receive permission from unnamed officials or he wouldn’t be allowed to return. The notice carries an ambiguous message on the current status of the public health crisis. In addition to submitting phone-based tracking of our location with self-reported information daily both to the government and our employer each day by 10:00 a.m., we are now being asked to do it a second time by 5:00 p.m. daily.

The “community cards” which we were required to show upon exit and entrance to our community have now been stepped up to be personalized (one per adult, whereas the old ones were general and two per household) and require a government issued photo ID to be shown with them. Non-inspection by security shows this just to be a security theater measure — not meaningful.

Fortunately, we are all well here. My worst issue is that my mother-in-law insists on opening the windows while I am running three air cleaners to suppress seasonal allergies. The allergies are winning. Restaurants can have sit-down service again, but with a limit of two adults and one child per table and tables must either have a physical separator between them or be 2 meters apart.

Movie theaters which were beginning to open a couple of weeks ago were locked up again as of Thursday, and movie producers are forbidden to license their movies to streaming to recoup losses. The logic behind that is more than a little convoluted, but very much command-economy based.

CORRECTION: Our correspondent apprises me that he erred in his reference to Jinxiang province; he intended to refer to Jiangxi province. I have corrected the text above accordingly.